I'm so startled at how many people, who call themselves believers in Christ, are mocking those choosing to build up the Afghan believers in Christ who, even as we speak, are dying for their faith, while pointing out how many in the Western Church can't be bothered to look past their own fear of disease, or outside threats to gather in worship. I've heard many say "That's not the same thing!" or "this comparison is toxic," or "you're just trying to manipulate us!" As I sit here, dumbfounded at the lack of unity among believers, and the desire to strengthen the resolve of the church, the Lord pointed me to Jesus' complaints about the Pharisees: And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” Luke 11:45-52
Many of us are distressed, and some even persuaded by the jaded talk of modern day Pharisees. Remember, the Pharisees, those who wanted to maintain their religious tradition, and who crucified the Messiah, also were of the same sort who murdered the prophets! A time for boldness is being called for, and those who do not wish to be bold but rather to ease their own conscience by towing the line, will try to diminish and dissuade those who are taking a stand for Christ. As your light shines, their darkness will become more pronounced, and rather than listen to the voice of Jesus, they try to shut Him down, as their forbears did at Golgotha.
Why am I saying all of this? I want to encourage you: stand firm, be bold for Christ, preach the Gospel, whether it's popular or not, live by faith and not by sight! Yes, this is a dangerous mentality, but it has been dangerous since the church began, and the way believers have been encourage to live, even by Jesus Himself! This world is not our home. If we seek to save this life, we will lose it. If we lose our lives for His sake, only then we shall find it. Be sad at those who call themselves brother or sister, and yet try to extinguish your flame: remember, such people killed the Prophets, and even Jesus. Yet we know, through Jesus, is resurrection and life, for that is what He is! Stand firm, be bold, proclaim the Gospel everywhere, even if it costs you everything! Acts 4:13-31 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.