In my hometown Tuesday is the "cheap night" at our local movie theatre. So, yesterday afternoon late, Hubster and I decided we'd see a movie. At first, we were looking to go see "Ben Hur", which has been out a few days. Then, we noticed that there was going to be a one-night, single showing of a movie called, "Insanity of God". Intrigued, we read the description on Fandango, and knew our choice was made.
The theater was packed. We also ran into some of our church's ministerial staff and church friends were there, which was cool. We sat down with our popcorn and Coke, and began to be blown away.
Here are my take-aways from this powerful movie.
1. Most of us American Christians have no idea what persecution for our faith is like. In countries that are "closed" to the gospel of Jesus Christ, persecution is generational. Persecution is considered to be both a familial as well as a spiritual birthright. In China, unless you have been to prison for your faith in Jesus Christ, you are not fully trusted by the underground Christian community. Prison is their seminary.
2. There is One True Church of Jesus Christ. Do you pray for "the persecuted church"? I have, and do. But, there is not "the persecuted church" and "the free church"; there is just The Church. One Body, consumed and propelled by One Spirit, following One Savior, our Lord Jesus. Similarly, there are not "missionaries" and those that "fill the pews". We are all missionaries, or should be. I was shamed to hear the words of my denomination's current leader who said that of the millions of members of our denomination in America, most will go to their graves without having told one, single person the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can only conclude that our reluctance to share the gospel on a day-in, day-out basis is due to our belief that either: 1) It is not a truth worth sharing or 2) Jesus doesn't really matter.
Yes, we pray for "the persecuted church" because we see them as "the needy ones"; we ought to pray for "the flabby church", because we are the ones who are poor, and wretched, self-indulgent and blind.
3. God wastes nothing. No trial or tribulation or hardship we endure, especially those we suffer because of our faith in Jesus Christ, ever goes unnoticed or unused by God. We may never see how God will use it; but, He will. Or, we may get to see how God uses it, but not completely. For example, there is a story in the movie about a man imprisoned for his faith. In the filming of the movie, as that scene was re-enacted on celluloid, for posterity, the Spirit of the Living God moved yet again, using that trial for His glory AGAIN!
Think about Paul's imprisonment. Honestly, I do not think he had ANY idea that his little letters would form the backbone of the New Testament. Many of them were written while he was under house arrest for his faith.
So, if you are suffering today because your Savior and Lord is Jesus Christ, and you are faithfully following Him, God will use and continue to use your sorrow, your pain, your loss to grow your faith as well as the faith of others, and perhaps even those around the world, especially if we yield to Him and let Him be God.
Don't think that your faithful ministry is for nothing. He never wastes anything, but instead uses it all to His glory.
4. Finally, the movie made me consider the kind of faith I want. And, here's my renewed commitment. I want:
a faith based on the Word of God, no matter the cost,
a faith courageous in every circumstance,
a faith that enables me to truly see with Spirit-eyes EVERY opportunity, and to seize it
a fighting faith, one that confronts evil and defeats it
a miraculous faith that "moves mountains"
a faith that I don't merely possess, but a faith that possesses me, a radical, insane faith.
…16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.…
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Dearest, precious, most Sovereign Father, Your all-powerful works among us humans demonstrate Your perfect plan....a plan that seems rather insane to us most of the time. Often, it requires us to make super-human sacrifices, because Jesus matters. He matters eternally, both now and forever. And, because He is all-in-all, no persecution we endure here is either insignificant or forgotten. I thank you for that. Almighty One, I lift up to You in prayer today all who love You truly and who are giving their last ounces of strength in Your service, moment to moment. Strengthen our flabby faith, Jesus, and make us into warriors, brave-hearted warriors, for the sake of Your name, and for the spreading of Your gospel, over the whole world. In Jesus' name, amen.