Are You Ready to Stand for Jesus?
I remember a few years ago hearing a story about a young woman who was in a village in Africa when a group of men stormed her school and began to rape and kill many of her classmates. They told the young women to deny Christ to save her life, and she did. Only, she was a Christian. Later she was released from her captors but regretted terribly denying her Savior. It was something she had to live with the rest of her life...and she vowed she would never deny Him again.
I have often wondered, what would I do. What would you do? If today someone came into your home, your school, your work, and said deny your faith or loose your life...what would you do? I think as much as we would like to say there is no way I could deny my Savior, is it possible I could?
As I was reading Matthew 26 something stood out.
Peter and all the disciples thought they were in a time of peace. Their world looked relatively calm. They had just celebrated the Passover with their Master, certainly it was a solemn time but also a relatively peaceful time. Yes, Jesus had been trying to prepare them and tell them of the things to come, but much like us, it seems we can know the word of God and that it tells us Jesus is coming again and this world will end, but for many, when they look around and see relative peace and safety, or that life is continuing on...it’s hard to imagine.
The same was true for Peter. As Jesus told him and the other disciples that they would all deny Him that very night, each said they wouldn’t. And, Peter most strongly confirmed that he would never deny Jesus. But, we know the rest of the story.
Not only could Peter not even stay awake one hour to pray with Jesus and watch that night, instead he slept (how often are we sleeping when we should be watching and praying?), but He also denied Jesus three times that very same night. As Jesus, his master, friend and Savior was being led to what would be His death, His friend Peter stood “a far off,” and did in fact deny having known His Savior. And not once, but three times.
Do we also stand “a far off,” following God in theory but not in actions?
Are we stronger than Peter? Though we might say now in a time of relative peace (and relative is the key phrase: perception can be deceiving!), we would never deny Jesus. But, how would we truly behave in a crisis?
Would we be able as the martyrs of old (and many today in persecuted lands) to stand in the burning fire and hold fast to our faith, or to stand facing the barrel of a gun and not falter for the sake of Christ? Would we be able? Some of us may even be denying Jesus already. If we do not stand fast in the small trials that come our way, how could we expect to be ready for the large trials that are to come?
We have to be ready to stand now on truth, and for Jesus. When your boss comes to you and tells you not to share your faith at work: what will you do? When your child’s school sends a note home notifying you that they cannot pray on school grounds, what will you do...what will they do? When you are asked to give all now for Jesus, to increase your faith so you will be ready for the larger trials to come, what will you do? Are you willing to sacrifice now for Jesus, so you will be able to stand firm when the storm comes? Would you be able as the reformers of old, to stand unwavering in your faith, even in the face of death?
Some sadly today are attending church only for the social life it offers and it’s entertainments, or maybe are being drawn by a “good message.” But, following Christ is far deeper than a once a week “experience.” Instead, God is calling each of us to a life changing experience that will enable us to lay down our lives if we are called for the very one who laid down His life for us! I have to re-evaluate constantly am I walking that path, am I doing what Jesus has asked me to do...it sure is a thought provoking question!