“Are you a Christian?”
Seems like a pretty innocuous phrase really. Not that harmful to ask and it usually wouldn’t cost you anything to answer it in most western countries. You might have to really consider the consequences if you lived in, say, Iran or North Korea. But not here in America. Right?
But in a local community college in Roseburg, Oregan, on October 1, 2015, answering that question would get you shot in the head.
Suddenly the question doesn’t seem so innocuous after all, especially if it comes from someone pointing a gun at you.
I have often wondered how I would respond. Would I love my life too much to want to answer truthfully or would I stand and boldly acknowledge the truth? Is my faith strong enough to stand in times of trouble?
I have often wondered if the particular brand of Christianity that we currently celebrate will be looked back upon by future generations with disgust. As a history fan, I have read about the different expressions of the Christian faith over the generations. There were times when what was “normal Christianity” did not look anything like the kind of faith that Jesus described. I am certain, though, that those who were living through it did not see the error of their way. When you don’t know any different, it’s amazing what you will put up with as normal.
Will future generations look at us and say the same thing? Will they consider our particular modern expression of faith as weak, watered down and lacking authentic faith? Or will they see it as steadfast, hope filled and dynamically expressing the Kingdom of God?
A pretty good litmus test for faith is how it responds under pressure. Real faith actually blossoms under trial and tribulation.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
Is God hoping that we face hardship and trouble? I don’t think so. I know my children will learn from falling off their bike, but I am not hoping they fall off! But, falling a few times will teach them how to persevere and perseverance will bring about the reward of riding a bike.
Knowing the character of God enables us to trust the process even when we don’t understand it.
Corrie Ten Boom is quoted as saying this, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Trial and tribulation will come to us. Difficult circumstances will surround us. We may yet be faced with someone who desires to take our life because of what we believe. But we can be steadfast. The only surety we have comes from knowing God – not just about Him, but knowing Him.
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Praying for those who lost family members in that tragedy…