While most Americans' minds during October are typically filled with thoughts of cooler weather, bonfires, football, and Halloween, my thoughts always navigate towards the Reformation and the persecuted Church worldwide. I am still amazed at the courage and tenacity of Martin Luther as he took a stand against all of Christendom for what is one the basic tenants of our Christian faith. Martin Luther never desired a split in the Church that would result in so many denominations and factions. He did not want to leave the Catholic Church, but the teachings of doctrines such as penance and the supremacy of the pope were not and are not found in Scripture. Because Luther would not waiver from his belief in the Sola Scriptura, he was excommunicated and spent a good deal of his life in hiding while translating that same Scripture into German. Martin Luther believed so strongly in the supremacy and infallibility of the Word of God that he was willing to die for it. I often think about how I would respond if I were I asked to recant my beliefs in the five Solas. My desire and prayer is to stand graciously firm in my beliefs; I do not want to only run the race set before me, but to finish it as well.
We are living in times where we can hide our heads no longer as the real threat of persecution encroaches on our borders. As you can see from the map below from Open Doors (www.opendoorsusa.org), Mexico is now on the high risk watch list. Our concern, however, should not only be about our safety, but also the eternal safety of those who would desire to kill us for our faith in God. It is often hard to remember in the heat of the moment but ...there but for the grace of God, go I (John Bradford .)
We, too, were at one time enemies of Christ. I am so grateful that God chose to love us in spite of our disregard for Him. The next time someone pokes fun at our faith or even someday threatens our lives because we are Christians, my hope is that we not only confidently and gratefully stand firm in our faith, but that we also see the other person's desperate need for God and that we were once that person.
"..that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.." ~ Phil. 3:10 ESV