Meeting with Believers in the Middle East
I have been on the ground in the Middle East for a few days. Two colleagues from LifeWay and I have come to an undisclosed country for the Follow Me Simulcast. The simulcast will feature David Platt as he teaches about the call for us to give our lives as a blank check to Jesus Christ. It will be on Wednesday evening and you can find more information about it at LifeWay.com.
While in this city, we have been meeting with fellow Christians to vide record their testimonies. You will be able to hear from some of these brothers and sisters in the faith during the simulcast. They have shared incredible stories of how the church is ministering in this region of the world and how they are persevering despite opposition. We have heard stories of imprisoned believers standing strong and joyful about their faith in Christ.
As I have met with both citizens of the Middle Eastern countries and others that have moved here to work alongside of them, it has been a sobering reminder of several things.
1. I am not my own. The call of Christ to follow Him demands my all. His great sacrifice to bring salvation to us cannot be met with a haphazard or half-hearted response on our part.
2. Suffering is something many of us barely understand. The testimonies from those who willingly risk persecution in order to live out their faith is nothing short of astounding. As someone living in the Western culture, the most I encounter are minor inconveniences in matters of faith. Around the globe, Christians are truly persecuted with violence and imprisonment. It should drive us to intercede in prayer for these faithful believers and find ways to care for them.
3. The call to follow Christ is worth any price. We need to honestly evaluate the lengths to which we will go to engage in God’s mission. Here, believers risk friendships, family relationships, work, and their freedom to openly confess Christ as Lord. But they do it. They do it because they hearts break for entire countries where the gospel has not been proclaimed. They do it because they deeply desire for their family and friends to come to know Jesus. Following Jesus in His mission is worth any price because it is the way that our Lord has determined that the gospel will be spread throughout the world.
4. Loving the Lord should naturally result in a life lived on mission. I tire of trying to motivate myself and others to get engaged with God’s mission. It reveals a laziness on our part that is, at the very least, an insult to the saving grace placed upon us. When the religious rituals, overdone programming, and ostentatious settings of our church life are stripped away, we can see more clearly what is granted to us. The believers here do not have the perceived luxuries of large facilities, major ministry programming, and budgets of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. What they do have is the sense that participating in the mission of God is a joyful privilege. They love the Lord so greatly that doing otherwise is not even an option. I hope that our love for Christ will drive us more deeply into the mission of Christ.