1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
This is a very unpopular line of thinking in much of the Church today. With Prosperity Gospel and the like, people come to church for the “goodies” they think they’ll get, paying little attention to this and other passages that speak of discipline and commitment. It is precisely such people who are on the losing end of this verse, because they are not following the true Gospel. Just yesterday I was reading an article about the churches in Germany during the Nazi era, and how few really stood for Christ against Nazi pressure. America has had a very small taste of that very recently, but it’s only a hint of what really could be. Right now churches in America are very privileged, with tax exemptions and social standing and the like, but that is the exception when we look at the Church world-wide. When it costs so little to be a Christian, many fail to grasp and appreciate the true benefits. It is when your life is on the line that Jesus is most precious, because you’ve got to decide that His love is indeed better than life. (Psalm 63:3)
It’s now been over 30 years since a Social Studies teacher at the high school where I was teaching told me he had used me as an illustration in class. He had been talking about differing attitudes toward religion in different cultures, and said something like this. “If you point a gun at a Japanese and tell them to change their religion, they will respond, ‘To what shall I change it?’ If you point a gun at Garrott and tell him to change his religion, he will spread his arms and say, ‘shoot.’” I was moved almost to tears to hear him say that, because I had not been overt, I thought, in presenting Christ in that school, and I was deeply grateful that was the impression I had given. As I read of the thousands of people who are losing property, liberty, and life because they claim Christ, I pray for them and I praise God for their faithfulness. At the same time, I wonder how Christians in privileged countries would respond to such pressures. Here in Japan, this church is registered with the government and receives tax exemption, which makes it economically possible for us to have a building and land. The early Church had no such advantages! I need to be aware that I, and we, operate entirely by the grace and power of God, and take nothing for granted. I am not to present a “sugar-coated” Gospel, but I am to make it clear that being in Christ is worth any possible sacrifice.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I pray that our hearts would be cleansed and strengthened to seek Christ because He is worthy, and not for lesser motives. May we be Your children, Your servants, witnesses of Christ indeed, on every level so that the strongholds of the enemy would be torn down and many set free to come from darkness to light, death to life, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!