Now I Begin,
Now I Begin,
I am a Christian. I believe in Christ. I believe he is God. I believe he came down from Heaven, not as a Zeus. He came down as flesh and blood; vulnerable, modest, and new. I believe Jesus grew up from a baby to a man who taught about compassion, epitomized love, and imparted wisdom. I believe in his courage, in his selflessness, and in his resurrection. I believe in him so much that I do not like to look at crucifixes because the image of our Lord’s body hanging in humility, vulnerable, and in pain causes my heart such agony. I am a Christian, but could I die for it?
If a man with a gun were to walk into a room and demand, “If you are a Christian stand up.” I do not think I would have the courage to stand up. As much as I believe, as much as I love…I do not know that I am ready to suffer for our Lord.
Just writing those words seems harsh. Let’s be real. Back in the day people were getting killed left and right for being Christians. The more you believed, the more your professed your faith, the more likely you were to be murdered. Every time I read a bible story about someone who was martyred in our Lord’s name, I can not help but to ask, “Lord, why? Why is it those who show you so much devotion, and love suffer?”
Ten people died yesterday in Oregon. It is reported that they were signaled out for being a Christian:
“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,”
They stood up. They stood up! Faced with a man standing with the devil, they held to their convictions and stood up. They were killed for it.
Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. In April 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech:
“Our brothers and our sisters … are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christian,” he said, his expression tense, his cadence slow but deliberate.
April 2015: 147 people are massacred at Garissa University College in Kenya. They were signaled out for being Christians. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/02/africa/kenya-university-attack/
February 2015: 21 Egyptian men beheaded in a grisly video for being Christians. http://time.com/3718470/isis-copts-egypt/
A July New York Times Magazine recounts the plight of Middle East Christians who are being driven from their homes. They are not allowed to take anything with them except their lives. Three year old Christina was ripped from her mother’s arms as they waited on a bus to leave. When her mother pleaded for her daughter’s return she was told,
“Get on the bus before we slaughter your family” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/magazine/is-this-the-end-of-christianity-in-the-middle-east.html?_r=0
As I sit here in my house, writing away with a scented candy cane pencil, drinking flavored coffee, I am sad and angry…uncomfortable only in my emotions. I contemplate the lives of Christians everywhere; brave souls who dare to practice their faith even when it threatens their livelihoods and lives. I am sad and angry..but I am also alive. I remember those who had the courage to stand up…and died because of it.
I am a Christian. I believe in Christ. I believe he is God. Today I pray that I will remember his compassion, humility and vulnerability. Today I pray that even in my anger I will remember to be the example and not the problem. Today I pray that I will stand up for my faith. I will evangelize. I will love. I will be patient. I will not blame. I will be courageous. I will serve. Today I pray for those who said, “I am a Christian. I believe…” Today I pray for those who stood up and died for it.