And now consider this. You know well the times you are living in. It is time for you to wake up and see what is right before your eyes: for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Saeed Abedini (Persian: سعيد عابديني) is an Iranian American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and incarcerated in Evin Prison since September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities in Iran
Pastor Abedini represents a vast sector of the church outside the United States where Christians suffer persecution and endure the denial of even basic human rights simply because they believe in Jesus.
His crime? Working on a government-approved orphanage.
In his book “A Psalm in My Heart” George Wood writes:
A pastor friend of mine in China was sentenced in 1956 to 9 years in prison and kept on probation another 15 years. Twenty-five years is a long time to remain falsely accused, forbidden to preach the gospel, or conduct services.
In many parts of the world this is a common experience for Christians.
We may ultimately face such a time in America.
Before the German Nazis began to exterminate Jews and Gypsies around World War II, they caricatured and dehumanized them through ridicule and false accusation. In America, evangelical believers committed to biblical stands on morality are commonly typed as intolerant, hateful, or even dangerous.
This book was written in 1997
In the United States in recent years there we have seen a significant increase in anti-Christian rhetoric and ridicule of Christian beliefs.
There is an increasingly radical and sometimes violent demand for acceptance of world-views and lifestyles that oppose foundational Christian beliefs.
And those who demand tolerance show little if any tolerance to those who disagree.
I believe Mr. Wood’s prediction is right and closer than we think.
But when this comes to pass it will provide an opportunity for the church, the followers of Christ to do their best work.
So how do we get ready? What do we do to be prepared?
I believe there is some very good advice in the verse used at the beginning of this post.
“Now consider this”
Think about it don’t let this moment pass without “considering” the importance of what the apostle Paul is writing.
“You know well the times you are living in”
Or are you like those in the Orthodox church in Russia in 1917 who considered the issue of the day to be the length of candles used in worship. A few blocks away Lenin and the Bolsheviks were planning a revolution that would change Russia and and the church.
The time that is coming is a time of great challenge but also a time of great harvest.
“It is time to wake up and see what is right before your eyes”
I am afraid that in our church culture we are also too focused on the candles, the cosmetic aspect of the church. The privilege we have to freely worship when and where we please has lulled us to sleep and far to often we look to “others” the full-time ministry people to address the issues of our time.
What are your opportunities to impact what is “right before your eyes”. What are the issues in your neighborhood, your city? What can you do?
“for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”.
For those who know the Lord and belong to Him His coming will be a time of great joy. Not so much for those who do not.
There is still time to reach them, and guess who gets to do that?
We pass up opportunities to share the Good News because they are “not like us”.
It is ironic to me that after all the grace and forgiveness we have experienced we would pick and choose who we will reach out to. Creating a litmus test that decides who is worthy of our attention and who is not. A criteria that has nothing to do with the most important reason we reach out to the lost and hurting.
Because God loves them.
The Lord is not willing that any would perish, but that all would know His love, repent, and be saved
2 Peter 3:9
It is time to wake up!