Writing in The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity Henry Chadwick relates how during the great persecutions in ancient Rome, the largest number of those who compromised their faith were those who had property, wealth and higher social standing. This had significant consequences for the destitute, fed from money given by the richer believers in the church.
It’s also a sad fact that many Jews who wouldn’t or couldn’t let go of their homes, possessions and jobs in Nazi Germany before the Second World War and take the opportunity to escape persecution for a better life abroad, ended up as victims of the holocaust.
There is a story from Kenya, that during British Colonial times, many Africans went to church, not so much out of faith, but in order to advance their own social standing and careers, when to be seen in church produced definite personal benefits. During Kenya’s drive for independence – the ‘Mau Mau Rebellion’ of the 1950s, the Church also came under attack, because it was seen as a white man’s institution. Many black Africans left the Church, because it was no longer safe to belong to. However, some did not. One black pastor in particular, stayed put to look after his flock, in spite of threats to his family and himself. He paid the ultimate price. Those years of upheaval, resulting in an independent Kenya, cleansed the church of nominalism and left a core of true believers numbering 10,000. This remnant formed the basis for a revival in Kenya in the years following.
How would we react if the state threatened to take our property and wealth away, unless we recanted our faith and agreed to accept another religion or creed? Would we hold true under such pressure? What do we hold most dear? Sometimes, it is not until pressure is applied to our lives, that we truly see what is on the inside. Do we trust Jesus with our very life?
As our scripture for today indicates, if we build our lives on the true and solid foundation of a personal relationship with Jesus, then we will be able to stand in the tough times and be supported and supportive of each other. We will not cave in like the house built on sand and desert our Lord and our brothers and sisters in the faith.
In these days of relative ease in the western world, we have opportunities to find healing for our souls and strength for our spirits so that should greater persecution arise, we can stand in the face of such opposition and say truly, “Jesus is Lord!” May God help us to do so! Those in other countries are already facing these tests. May God help them to stand!
Prayer: Dear Lord God, please help me to seek You for a strong, vital and living relationship, one that will sustain me through the tough times. When things are rough and I feel I’m sinking, please hold me in Your loving arms, restore my soul and give me hope for the journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.