Lucero. Quinn. Kim. Lucas. Jason. Lawrence. Sarena. Treven. Rebecka.
These are the heroes. These are those that truly know sacrifice. Those that gave their lives for Christ last week in Oregon.
For some reason over the last couple of months I have a newfound sense of appreciation and overall thankfulness for my religious freedom. It started with David Platt’s book Radical in which he posed the question 'would people living in America continue to worship, attend church and publically express their faith, if it were not so “easy”?'. He goes through several examples of people sacrificing and risking their lives to gather and study the bible. Then he described how “easy” it is to worship in America. We complain when Sunday service runs over an hour, if the music isn’t to our liking or if the seats aren’t comfy. But there are people in the world traveling to private locations to spend 8+ hours reading the bible by candlelight as not to get caught by their local governments. We have it easy. We have no excuse. We know little to no sacrifice.
This realization was further magnified during my trip to Scotland. My fiancé and I were discussing the cultural differences in how people express their faith in the United Kingdom compared to America. I (ignorantly) described their culture as compartmentalized. There is life and then there is church and it doesn’t seem like they are integrated. (Disclaimer: I apologize if this offends anyone of British decent. Please keep reading…) Then my fiancé challenged me to change my thinking. America was founded on the idea of freedom and these freedoms have provided me a great foundation to worship with little to no risk. However, these freedoms have also blinded my perspective to sacrifice. In all honesty, I really do not have to sacrifice anything at all to serve my Lord Jesus Christ. The people living in Scotland, England and Ireland have had nothing but religious warfare. As you tour historic site after historic site, it is evident. Openly expressing their faith was not without risk for a long, long time. The majority of battles throughout their histories are based on division of the church. So their comfort level with openly expressing faith is a bit different than mine. It's not that they compartmentalize but rather they are sensitive to thousands of years of religious warfare. Much of their history is centered on sacrifice.
But I am starting to wonder how much longer I will have this freedom in America. I feel like Americans are starting to feel “sacrifice”. And I have to wonder if I was in Oregon last week and I was the second person to be asked if I was a Christen, I wonder what my answer would be. It’s really easy to say I would never deny Christ having never actually sacrificed anything of real value to serve Him. But I really wonder if my faith was tested against true sacrifice, would I stand true? I mean, Peter denied knowing Christ and Peter actually knew Jesus when he was living on earth!
Matthew 26:31, 33a-34
On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me.” Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter-this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
So they arrested him (Jesus) and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!” After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted. About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about. And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard weeping bitterly.
I cannot imagine how Peter felt. But more than that, I am scared that I would be a Peter. I fear that if I had to sacrifice my life I wouldn’t be a Lucero, Quinn, Kim, Lucas, Jason, Lawrence, Sarena, Treven or a Rebecka. I fear I would be a Peter. Me of little faith. I pray God strengthens my faith so I learn to sacrifice in His name. And not be a Peter if ever faced with such incredible sacrifice.
To the heroes that had to sacrifice for being a Christian...I admire you. And I truly hope my faith is as strong and firm as yours, if ever faced with sacrifice.
Freedom, sacrifice and 9 heroes,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.