Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Imagine that conversion to Christ were against the law

No need to imagine. It is already the case in Iran, as elsewhere. Craig points to an article detailing the arrest and questioning of twelve in Iran, accused of converting to Christ. Which jogs a number of thoughts.

First, a sincere and heartfelt disclaimer, to which I'll return at the end: nothing of what I am about to say should be read as self-righteous, lofty scolding. I am in no position to dole out arrogant lectures to anyone who I deem insufficiently willing to suffer for Christ. I know how repugnant it is for armchair theorists to sneer at what they imagine is the poor performance of folks who (unlike them) are actually in the field, trying and attempting and sacrificing and suffering.

Having said that, I do know a bit about history and the Bible, and both have me wondering: is the Gospel spreading so slowly, particularly in Muslim-oppressed lands or in China, because Christians are unwilling to suffer as martyrs? because they hide their worship, their testimony, their baptisms? Is not the blood of the martyrs still the seed of the church?

As soon as I write that, and in spite of my disclaimer, I feel shame. Who am I to fault? What have I suffered? How many times have I drawn back for fear of a mere sneer, or mere job loss? What finger can I point that doesn't bring shame and condemnation on my own head?

Have I in any way led my family to have eternal values? Can my young sons even conceive of suffering for Jesus, and gladly so? Or can I conceive of them choosing to risk and suffer for eternal values and goals? Or are not my goals for them — and the value-structure I've (however unintentionally) bred in them — strictly this-worldly, middle-class, materialistic, and safe? With a little Jesus sprinkled on top for after you die? In my loving effort to make sure they have nice things, to give them security, to afford every advantage, and by my own consequent playing it safe, have I unwittingly led their love in the wrong direction?

Well, yikes. That little bit of tepid would-be reproach rather backfired, didn't it?


Jay said...

Wow. That hits home, for me and I'm sure for many Christians.

coldwell said...


Now that your hat is in the ring, I have no doubt that you will become a church pastor somewhere. But please continue this blog, because here, you are my pastor.

Heartfelt thanks

CR said...

John Piper said something interesting in his latest, "Ask Pastor John." He says the key to speaking boldly about Christ is getting to know God well. (And what does this have to do with your post - well, the more boldly we speak about Christ, trust me, the more we'll be persecuted - maybe not killed, but persecuted nonetheless).

I guess the problem is that we feel marginal a lot of times about Christ. Sure, we're really brave in church and at Christian blogs. But the more we feel that Christ is essential in life, the more naturally it will flow talking about him and the more will be persecuted.

Unknown said...

Isaiah 6:8 "And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"

Here, there, and across the world. Don't just SAY you are going to go talk to your neighbor - DO IT!