The Love of God in the Face of Persecution

tvI never watch the news and it is not by accident, it is strategic. If I am being perfectly honest, I don’t want to know what is happening in the world today. Watching the news would mean hearing about terrible evils that I can, essentially, do nothing about. We can argue later about whether or not that is a healthy attitude, although I am pretty sure it is not. But there is one thing I do want and need to know about and that is the persecution of the saints. After all, these people are our family. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we need to do what we can for them. But that begs the question, “What can we do?” We have to ask ourselves the hard question of, “What are we doing for the kingdom of Christ?”

As we ponder this question, which is vital to our existence as believers, I want to take us to Daniel, chapter 3. The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is one that has been told over and over. It’s no accident but a part of God’s grand design that this story has become so familiar to us. After all, this famous bible story about three men who were forbidden to follow God but did it anyway is being lived out over and over again around the world each day. It’s being lived out today by North Korean believers in prison camps because their devotion to God is greater than their devotion to country. It’s being lived out by middle eastern believers who would rather lose their heads than renounce Jesus. It’s being lived out by Chinese believers who brave the threat of prison every time they congregate. It’s being lived out by Kenyan believers whose government gives them freedom but still they live in fear of militant Muslim groups.

As I consider Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s terrifying story, along with the thousands of retellings, I realize the only thing strong enough to compel men to walk through fire is love. Not just any love but God’s love. Listen to their bold response to the tyrant King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 16-18, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning furnace and he will deliver us out of your hand. But if not, be it known to you, o king, that we will not serve your gods.”

We have created a version of love that is more concerned with what people want than what they need. But you do not see that kind of love is this passage at all. You can tell by Nebuchadnezzar’s response in verse 19, “Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury.” This love that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego display is a love that has less regard for feelings and pleasure and more regard for God and today with the Gospel in view, more regard for souls and eternity. It is God’s beautifully poured out sacrificial love, so powerful and abundant, they are compelled to pour back out to God by proclaiming Him and His works no matter the cost.

I truly believe the most proactive thing we can do for our brothers and sisters around the world is join with them in this love of the God of the gospel and preach it! This is not to be used as an excuse to not give or pray or join them in the trenches, but as a place to start. Start by loving the God who saved you and the people He placed around you (neighbors, coworkers, children, family) enough to preach Jesus everywhere, at all times. Go ahead, exhaust the ears of those around with your declarations of love for Jesus. He is worth it!! And as for our brothers and sisters in peril today, know this, “The Lord will rescue [them] from every evil deed and bring [them] safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever.” 2 Timothy 4:18

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