I have been preaching through the book of Hebrews. In this past Sunday's exposition, I dealt with Hebrews 11:30-40; the title of the message was Faith that Overcomes. In the development of verses 35-37, I transitioned the writer's expectation of persecution for the Hebrew Christians to contemporary persecution. Here is a brief snippet.
Persecution is very real. I could give example after example of modern-day persecution, yet we are lulled into believing that it really doesn't happen. We are insulated by a first amendment that guards our religious expression. We can gather freely, talk about the Bible, and worship with absolutely no recourse.
Yet, there are Christian brothers and sisters around the world that earnestly pray for the freedom you and I have. What does that freedom engender in us, however?
A white-hot passion for the Gospel?
A zeal to see souls saved?
A radical worship that changes hearts and lives?
An earnest calling forth of men and women to repent and believe the Gospel?
No--none of this. Rather it engenders in us a complacency, a slothfulness, a laziness that God abhors. It does not drive us to our knees in fervent prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters. It drives us onto our backsides just glad that it ain't us.
These martyrs; these persecuted Christians are who the writer of Hebrews is holding up for us by way of example. He isn't holding up who we would consider giants of the faith--Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah, Jerry Falwell--yes, these are great men of God and we should listen to them, honor them, and respect them and their ministries. Yet they aren't the men whom will be in the roll call of faith per Hebrews 11.
It will be men more along the likes of Tilmann, Necati, and Ur, Turkish believers who died for their faith in April of this year. Or the Chinese believer who was brutally beaten, along with his wife, for refusing to reveal the meeting location of their house church.
This is a disconnect that we need to overcome as the people of God. Persecution is real and it takes place everyday--even if it doesn't happen within our shores. Our freedom is a blessing but one we take woefully for granted.