Oh, you're one of those Jesus Freaks? Actually, yes I am!
You think you're better than everyone else. Nope, not really.
You hate homosexuals, right? No, I don't hate anyone.
You're narrow-minded and intolerant. Ah, well, if you mean do I believe there is only one way to get to heaven and that's through the blood-sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Yes, then I suppose I am narrow-minded and intolerant.
So, if I don't believe in Jesus, I'm going to hell? Afraid so.
Yet for those of us living in America, this kind of abuse is a walk in the park compared to our brothers and sisters living abroad. 176,000 Christians were martyred from mid 2008-mid 2009. The Christian life isn't easy. It's a life of discipline, struggle, and persecution. It's a life of faith. We spend our time reading the Bible, submitting the will of God, reaching out to others, helping the poor. We deny ourselves. Some of us have lost friends because of our faith. Some have family members who refuse to speak to us. So, why do we do it?
I found the answer to the question, why do we go on, in Paul's letters to the persecuted churches in his day.
In Colossians 1, Paul praises the church for their faith and love, and in verse 5, he mentions their motivation for their hard work and faithfulness. Because of the hope of experiencing what is laid up, reserved and waiting for you in heaven.
And in Romans 8, Paul further declares
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.... For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
In Romans 15, Paul tells us that the Scriptures were written explicitly so we might have Hope. Did you know that?
For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by our steadfast and patient endurance and the encouragement drawn from the Scriptures, we might hold fast to and cherish hope
What is that hope?
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 1Thess 2:18
And again in Titus 2, Paul says
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
I think many Christians have lost sight of their Hope. We get too caught up in the business of religion, the duties, the discipline, the pot lucks and Sunday Schools, that we forget what it's all about. And then when persecution hits or temptation strikes, we haven't got our Helmet of Hope on and we give in and fall away.
So, let me remind you here. This life is but a vapor, a millisecond on the clock of eternity. Nothing, and I mean Nothing is more important than where you will spend that eternity!! And if you choose to spend it with God, it's a glorious eternity!! Filled with peace and joy and love and happiness, fulfillment and purpose, golden streets and pearly gates and a new creation that is beyond our wildest dreams.
And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. Paul, the apostle, 1 Cor 15:19
So don't give up!! Grab your helmet of hope and put it atop your head! You're in for the ride of your life!