Today’s devotion: Get Real, People!

Pastor Youcef NadarkhaniLuke 12:11-12            “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

We don’t really know what religious persecution actually is in Western Society. We tend to exaggerate the unpopularity of our Christian beliefs into something that isn’t true. We are not being physically attacked, imprisoned unjustly, or tortured for our allegiance to Christ. In fact, most of society totally ignores us; we’re no longer relevant and most people pay no attention to our whines and complaints.

Now this isn’t true in other places, nations, and societies around the world. Christian people are being beaten, imprisoned, oppressed, and killed for their beliefs. They are being persecuted; for instance, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran has spent years in prison for refusing to teach his children the Islamic faith. He’s been sentenced to death, but when the rest of the world protested, his sentence was reviewed. He’s still in prison, on the equivalent of Iran’s Death Row. His lawyer is now also in prison and new charges of rape, insurrection, and high treason have been made against Pastor Youcef. He’s enduring real persecution, so when I read about Christians over here in the United States getting really upset about the banning of prayer in schools, displaying the Ten Commandments, or marketplace nativity scenes in malls, I really wonder what Pastor Youcef would have to say. He’d probably shake his head in disbelief and state something like “Get real, people. This is not persecution.”

If we as Christians want to become influential again in society, then we have to stop whining. After all, who would be attracted to a faith community that just wanted to get its own way all of the time? We seem to forget that the symbol of our faith is a wooden cross and not a silver spoon.

Question for personal reflection

 Are my ways Christ’s ways? Do I cheerfully express my faith to others, or do I forcefully impose it on others?

 Prayer:            Lord Jesus, teach us the difference between paranoia and persecution. Give us a passion to express our faith through works of compassion. Keep us from turning minor inconveniences into major upsets. Help us to win souls for Your Kingdom instead of selfishly whining about the world. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to pastor@erinpresbyterian.org.

Today’s image is a photo of Pastor Youcef. Please continue to pray for his release, as well as for the safety of his family and friends.

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About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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