An Exhortation from a Present Persecution.

An Exhortation from a Present Persecution.

Well, you know, I didn’t intend for my blog post from a few weeks ago to be a two-part series, but here we are. It started with an email from Adam, one of my brothers-in-law, on Wednesday asking about a PBS story reporting on Russian troops persecuting Evangelical Christians in occupied Ukraine. In short, it was pretty much what I had imagined; it was the same story that has gone on for over a hundred years, dating from before the Soviet Union.

Connection? You can do so here if you did not get a chance to take in my post from earlier on April 11th. In the brief article, I spoke of the importance of committing to a local church family and illustrated the weight of this commitment by sharing what some Christians were required to in the process of forming a local church after the fall of the USSR. They had to present their documents to the local authorities, which perhaps would put their lives on the line if the tides of politics changed and the Soviets retook control. There was a real possibility that these Christians would be the first in line to hear from the KGB. That real fear these faithful Christians had to walk through was realized by these Ukrainian Christians recently when the Russian Army took control of their region. Part of the agenda of Putin is to force everyone in Ukraine to not only be reunited by force with Russia but to submit to the Russian Orthodox Church, and thus, the persecution of those who will not submit has begun.

Not all Russians support this action. There are indeed authentic Christians in Russia, and I still have such friends there. There are so many ways we should be praying about this situation. However, as was the point of the previous blog post, so we have it here: This should be an exhortation for us in America, the West, and really any part of the globe where we are tempted to take our freedom to assemble with the saints for granted.

Do you have reasons for wanting to ignore the community of saints? Have you been wronged, or have temptations toward something else rearranged your priorities? I don’t know. But I’ve struggled, too, at times. I’ve been burnt and broken and frankly have had times when I’ve just wanted to stay in bed on Sunday – and I’m the preacher. I get it. But this is critical. It’s not about me. It’s about God and others.

What we know is that the Bible exhorts us not to give up on the Body of Christ, which means the local church as well. So often, the issue is that we are looking at the church to get what we want instead of the Bride of Christ, warts and all, and asking what we can do for others instead of expecting others to serve us. Here is the reality. Over the past 2000 years, people have been persecuted, even unto death at times, for Jesus and the Church. These people laid it on the line for Christ, which should say something to our hearts. That ought to encourage us to stand up and put Christ and others first.

So, we must pray for the saints on the other side of the globe. And, yes, we are to get out of bed, actively love others, and commit to the church around us where we live. It’s one thing to talk about religion and politics in other places. It’s another thing to commit to the need here and now. That’s what the call is, though. But being connected to and committed to a local church family is also a blessing found in nothing else the world has to offer. What would those persecuted tell us now on the subject if they could?

I’m not always going to get things right and neither will you. But the amazing thing is that God takes us as we are and changes us, and one of the main ways He does that is through our active involvement in His Church. So, what are you waiting for? Find a local church that loves Jesus and teaches the Bible and find a way to dive in to help.

You can watch the short video report here: