by Ted Kyle
What would happen in most of the churches of America if a visiting evangelist should take the pulpit to preach not only the duty but also the joy of suffering for the sake of Christ?
What if this man of God should enlarge on the Apostle Paul's declaration to the Philippians "…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3:10).
Imagine with me one more step: Suppose this speaker pointed out that everything the Bible has to say about taking up one's cross and about suffering for the Lord Jesus was written for "ordinary" believers-not for heroic missionaries on some far-flung pagan shores, but, at least potentially, for everyone who names the name of Jesus.
What would happen? Would the churches empty? Would your church empty?
We get reports of what is happening to brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere. We hear of forcible conversion, on pain of death, to Islam in Indonesia-particularly in the Moluccas. We read of a "possible bloodbath against Christians" by fundamentalist Hindus in India. We learn of terrible atrocities against black Christian tribes in Southern Sudan, and lesser, but still potent, discriminations against believers in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, in the Philippines, in China, Russia, Greece, Turkey. The list goes grows longer almost every week. Everywhere, it seems, the tide of hatred against the gospel and those who believe it is rising.
Are we, "at home" in America, insulated from all this? Or will the tide come even to our shores? If our Bibles are to be believed-and how can we claim the name of Christian, if we do not trust the Book that introduces and explains God-come-in-the-flesh?-we must all become personally acquainted with persecution: "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12).
In 1949, as the godless Chinese Communist armies gathered momentum against the Nationalist forces, anxious Christians asked their missionary-mentors what they should do. Tragically, a great many were assured that God would not let the unthinkable happen. But He did. Today, we see a sturdy church in China, despite the bitter persecution (or because of it?). But in 1949, hundreds of thousands of Chinese believers were betrayed by their well-intentioned leaders. They were left unprepared.
I am convinced that churches everywhere should be teaching and preaching "the whole counsel of God"-and that surely includes Romans 5:3,4: "…we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience, hope."