In the last month there has been many tragic stories in the news, all with religious conflict at the core:
- Young girls in Nigeria kidnapped and forced to renounce their Christian faith
- A young pregnant woman in Sudan sentenced to 100 backlashes and death after the baby is born because she married a Christian man and did not want to renounce her faith
- Recent bombings in Nigeria, and so it continuous.
Worrying about these girls and reflecting on the unfairness of all this violence reached a whole new level when I was listening to a 15 year old Nigerian girl telling the story of how her father was killed in front of her because of his faith. The militants told him repeatedly that he will live if only he will renounce Christ, but time and again he declined and just before they shot him his words were something along the lines of: “How can I deny Christ if he has warned us that those who deny him will be denied in heaven”. The man died for those words with three shots in the chest.
Mat 10:32 – 33
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;
but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
These people are all suffering and being persecuted for their faith and their beliefs. In the pregnant woman and the father’s case they have quite boldly and publicly chosen and proclaimed Jesus Christ as their Saviour and they did that without any hesitation. If I am in such a situation will I be brave enough to do the same? I don’t know….
I am living in a country that accepts all faiths, am allowed to read my Bible when and where I want and can quite freely go to church and tell anyone that my Saviour is Jesus Christ. The embarrassment is that in some situations my biggest fear keeping me from proclaiming Christ openly is that people may think I am weird and one of those that walk around with a Bible under the arm. The reality is that during those times I am denying my Lord and Saviour and I wasn’t even physically threatened!
I went to read the passage the father referred to again and this time I realised why these people were so brave and what I need to start realising for my own life.
Mat 10:28 – 31
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
And even the hairs of your head are all counted.
So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
- As God’s children our fears are really unnecessary. God is the Saviour of souls, He values us and takes a personal interest in each of our lives.
- It is when we fear people that we forget that they may be able to hurt our bodies but they can never touch our souls. The body is temporary, but the soul is eternal. It is when we deny God that we kill our own soul and are responsible for our own eternal separation from Him.