Hebrews, chapter eleven, is commonly known as "the faith chapter." The chapter gives a summary of the acts of faith exhibited by some of the Bible's great characters - Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. Toward the end of the chapter, it starts talking about believers in general.
Hebrews 11:36-38, "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
Reading that passage makes me wonder how the majority of those in America today that call themselves Christian would stand up against such suffering.
Christians in America have never suffered persecution as these Saints in this passage.
Compare being told; we cannot pray before a football game to being scourged with a cat-of-nine-tails.
Compare a student not allowed to bring a bible to school or wear Christian themed items at school to being in "bonds and imprisonment."
Compare being sued for standing up for your Christian beliefs and being "sawn asunder."
Do not get me wrong; I am not trying to downplay the persecution toward Christians in America. Nor am I saying things like the removal of prayer, the inability to express and live by our Christian beliefs is a trivial matter. What I am trying to point out is - how many in America would still be claiming Christianity if the persecution reached the heights of Hebrews eleven?
For emphasis, I am not trying to trivialize things like not being allowed to pray in the public arena. Christians should speak out and cause a fuss over such rules because one thing does lead to another.
However, when Christians are not committed to the small things God expects from us, can we expect commitment when poverty, imprisonment, or death may be the result?
How did these heroes of Christianity endure through all this? What ingredient made them committed to Christ enough to suffer this much for Him?
The answer is faith.
In Hebrews 11:39, the verse immediately following our passage above, we read, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith ..."
Earlier in the chapter, is the key to pleasing God and gives us the foundation for the entire chapter. Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Because of faith, Noah built the ark, Sarah had a child at ninety years of age, David killed the giant; on and on and on the list goes.
Do the twenty-first century Christians have the faith to go to church on Sunday when the kids would have to miss or be late to their scheduled ball game?
Do the twenty-first century Christians have the faith to take time to read the Bible every day; to set aside time to pray?
Before you begin to say, "Now Preacher, you don't understand my circumstances ...." don't. I am not your judge, nor are you answerable to me. Both those jobs belong to God. Talk to Him about it.
If you are about to explain to anyone, including God, how you will stand when the fierce persecution comes, after being unable to perform the everyday tasks of being a Christian; please remember the words Christ in Luke 16:10, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
As we inch closer every day to the rapture, tribulation, and other end-time events - may God help us.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke Country Indiana. Website: www.preacherspoint.wordprss.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872.