Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Path of Greatest Resistance

 A wise friend once told me that the best choice is usually the hardest one. I must have heard her voice this morning when I decided to walk home from the brake shop instead of take the ride they offered. It was an uphill climb all the way, but I knew that the benefits would be worth it. So I walked and was surprised to find the hidden advantages worth more than getting my heart rate up. That walk gave me the solitude I needed to think about the title and content of this post.

Sometimes the easy choice isn't best when it comes to God's justice either. It takes some thought to figure out the benefits of God's way, and even then some of them may remain hidden. Isaiah 55:9 says:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts [emphasis added].
Nowhere is this seen more than in the biblical issues involved with the persecuted church. Yesterday, The Voice of the Martyrs' (VoM) Persecution Blog posted a fantastic article that explains how this human rights issue is not simply a problem that needs fixing. It involves suffering with a purpose that's biblical, so biblical that sometimes the work VoM does even feeds the problems.

My life's had enough trouble of it's own that I haven't paid much attention to the persecuted church until recently. Taking time to find out more has not been an easy choice, but it's the right one so for several months now I've been praying (thanks to the reminders of a FB friend) for Saeed Abidini. An Iranian-American pastor from Boise, Idaho, he was in Iran during the summer of 2012 to visit family and help build an orphanage. His arrest and subsequent imprisonment and torture are egregious human rights violations. Cast only as "social justice" issues, there's no purpose or value in his suffering or that of his wife and children. However, God places immeasurable value on this travesty and uses it to show the world that belief in Jesus Christ is worth whatever it costs.

So it is with all suffering. According to Romans 8:28, "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Working according to a biblical perspective gives suffering a purpose far higher than mere social justice advocates might fathom.

A few days ago a Christian friend asked for prayer as she walks alongside a teen's mom while that teen makes decisions that keep her enslaved to human traffickers. My friend cries and prays with the girl's mom, and loves on this young woman in every way possible trying to help her reject the life of slavery. She's trying to encourage this girl to enter a program that could change her life. By looking to the one who brings lasting hope, my friend shines the light of Christ into a very dark place. Many other believers stand with her in prayer. At the same time God is God whether we understand His answers or not. His ways are far greater than our's; His purposes sometimes beyond our comprehension. For some reason that girl went back to the streets.

And, she may continue to make decisions that keep her enslaved. Traffickers frequently brainwash their victims convincing them they need to stay in the "life," even when given the freedom to come and go. Their poor decisions break the hearts of all who genuinely care. This happens with many homeless people, too, as they brainwash themselves to think life on the street smoking pot or drinking alcohol is better than working, taking responsibility for their well-being, or finding a place to stay where they can be safe and have relationships with their families. Such lies are why social justice alone will never eradicate injustice or redistribute wealth to where people are equal.

Genuine equality comes through a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He's the only one who can bestow a right sense of self-worth. That's why believers withstand torture and imprisonment rather than renounce their faith. Being delivered from sin and evil into eternal life is worth dying for.

That's why rather than focus on social justice, I prefer to focus on a biblical understanding of the 7 challenges identified by Transform World and learn how Christ wants me to make a difference--one that sets people free into the truth and light and makes suffering count for all eternity.

Every believer can start making a difference for people around the world like Saeed Abidini and their families, who suffer for believing in Jesus. Please join us on a national prayer call for the persecuted church on May 31st.

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