Afraid? Of What?

At the beginning of quarantine, way back in March, I pulled out one of my favorite books and Jason and I began reading to our kids in the evening. The book, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn tells the story of Chinese Christian, Quan and his reunion with his long-lost American roommate, Ben. It highlights the truth of the Chinese persecution of the Christians under communism and depicts the true heroes of the faith who do not back down from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, even at the expense of their possessions, families, freedoms, and even their very lives. It took us a while to read through as a family; we finally finished it in October! But towards the very end of the book, when Quan is in prison and Ben has just encountered his own transformation, a conversation between the two roommates gripped me.

Ben asks, “When you pray for me, what do you ask?”

Weary, imprisoned, but victorious, Quan tells his American friend, “That you will face persecution.”

“What?”

“And that through it you will learn to grow. That you will learn to stand strong. That you will know you are in a war, and that you will learn to put on your armor and learn to use the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word.”

Christian persecution, in my experience, has always been something that happens on the other side of the world. In the Middle East, in North Korea, in China, in Africa. I never really thought it would come to America. And I, for sure, have never prayed for it! There are a lot of things I never thought would come to this nation, until this year. And persecution seems nearer than ever before.

There is an outright attack on the truth. Truth specifically in the Word of God. Scripture proclaims that people are sinful, not inherently good, that sexual immorality is wrong, regardless of the cultural justification for it, that marriage is sacred, between a man and a woman, that the earth was created in six days, that murder is wrong all the time, regardless of the economic circumstances. Those who hold to these views are considered archaic, hateful, stupid, and intolerant. I hold to the truth of the Word of God and it is vastly unpopular these days.

But these truths don’t just end there. They lead us to the cross, the greatest good that has ever come to this earth. There is salvation from our sins in Jesus Christ alone through faith! They also lead us to the acknowledgement that God is God and our response to Him must be worship and submission.

As Americans, who hold to the truth of the Word of God, there very well may come persecution. This is sobering. Sometimes very scary, if I’m honest. But we have not been called to fear. Just the opposite! For we know the end. As Christians, we fight from a position of victory because Jesus has already won!

As Christians, we fight from a position of victory because Jesus has already won!

What do I mean by fight? I mean we take up the weapons of our warfare: salvation, righteousness, truth, faith, the Word of God, the readiness of proclaiming the good news, and prayer and we go to battle against the true enemy. The spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.

Let the church arise with power and confidence in her task of fearlessly proclaiming the breathtaking news that there is salvation in Jesus. That there is hope in this desperate world. And let her always be looking forward to that day when the skies will part and her Savior will return.

Afraid? Of what?

To feel the spirit’s glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

Afraid to see the Savior’s face

To hear His welcome and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;

Darkness, light, O Heaven’s art!

A wound of his a counterpart!

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

To do by death what life could not-

Baptize with blood a stony plot,

Till souls shall blossom from the spot?

Afraid-of that?

E. H. Hamilton