August 3, 2009
What if No One Knew?
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35 (NIV)
This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to chaperone my son’s high school trip to Europe. Although my purpose in going was to invest in my son and be with him before time forever changes our life together, God had a few lessons tucked in surprising places for me.
One such place was Germany. In our short time there, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by painting a section of wall that will be ceremoniously knocked down in November. We were thrilled to help remember the freedom of so many.
In spite of all the freedom enjoyed in the last 20 years by Berliners, our tour guide told us that Germany school children are not allowed to wear or bring to school any “religious” symbols. For Christians, that means no jewelry, clothing or books that would reveal their faith.
Upon returning home, I tried to confirm his statement. Although I couldn’t, it challenged me to think how I would share my faith if I couldn’t tell anyone through words or symbols. My thoughts immediately turned to all the followers of Jesus throughout the ages who couldn’t share their faith openly. Although we might believe we need political freedom to share our faith, history shows us we don’t.
In many instances, Christianity thrives under persecution because God’s freedom shines even brighter in comparison. Believers don’t need symbols to share their faith, they do so with their lives. Imagine living or working in a place where you couldn’t say the name of Jesus out loud? How would people know?
As I read the New Testament, I see pictures of Christians who lived in such a way that their lives drew people to them and reflected the loving God they served. Here are just a few of the ways early Christians shared their faith without words:
· Going where others would not go.
· Giving generously to those in need.
· Taking care of each other.
· Forgiving great wrongs done to them.
· Showing hospitality to strangers.
This is just a short list of the many ways Christians “witnessed” to others. The Bible is full of examples of how God-followers told the story of their faith without using symbols or words. World history tells the same story. And I know there are believers in the world today facing life-threatening persecution.
It’s prompted me to really consider what “rights” I need in order to spread the Good News of our Savior. Do I really need a government that guarantees my religious freedom? I like that, and want that, but is it needed? Based on the stories of the heroes of our faith - yesterday and today - maybe what I really need is a life that tells about my God louder than any words.
Whether or not you live in a country that affords religious freedom, what are you doing to share your faith with others?
Dear Lord, today I pray for my brothers and sisters who are living under persecution for their faith today. Lord, be their peace, hope and freedom. Please help me to live a life that reflects who You really are. I long for others to know You and love You. Thank You for Your faithfulness to me in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
Take some time today to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution today. If God prompts you to do more, please visit Voice of the Martyrs website for some options on how you can help.
How would others know you are a Christian if you couldn’t say a word?
Are there areas of your life that need to change in order to live more like the believers in the New Testament?
Identify some of those areas.
2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted …” (NASB)
Psalm 34:19, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all …” (NIV)
Acts 4:34-35, “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 03 August 2009.