I just found out that there is a law going into effect on 7/20/16 (not quite a week and a half from now) that Russian Christians are no longer allowed to share their faith anywhere other than state-sanctioned church buildings. Not even their own home.
The next step will be to regulate what is spoken in those church buildings.
I am grieving for the Russian believers. I am praying for their courage, devotion and steadfastness.
I am also considering my own life and freedom. I think if I only had 9 days left to proclaim the Gospel, I would have to stand in the middle of town, for every waking hour of those few days, and tell everyone how amazing and worthy Jesus is and how much I love Him and that they should too! I’d tell them that He is far more wonderful than the worst suffering is awful! And that He is worth it all… and so is eternity!
But I’m also thinking that I probably just couldn’t shut up about Jesus, even after the 20th, even if it were illegal. Because I love Him far more than I could “contain” or want to. Anyone who knows me knows I love Jesus! He’s my favorite. And we can’t help but talk about our favorites! And letting the whole, wide world know how great He is, is vastly more important than avoiding jail, fines or beatings… or even death. Because this is a life or death thing, Christ is, and life on earth is very, very short compared to eternity.
Earlier in my walking with Christ, I recall many times second-guessing whether or not I wanted to talk about Him, whether or not I was willing to deal with a difficult conversation or a judgmental look and a cut-off relationship. I used to be much more concerned with peoples’ responses to my boldness. But that was awhile ago. And now, well, I just love Him too much to care about whether or not the person still likes me after they find out that I am a Christian. Because, for as much as I love them, I love Him more! And I love them so much, I just really want them to know Him!
I have been thinking for months now, about how the greatest commandment (to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves) plays out in our lives. Perhaps this is part of it. I don’t tell people how great Jesus is because I feel like I have to. I tell them because I adore Him! I know that He’s the best ever and I just want everyone else to know it too! He is so unbelievably wonderful, loving, kind, compassionate, magnificent, etc., etc., etc. and I just want every single person I meet to know Him, because, by golly, I love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. And I want them to know Him, too, because they are my neighbor and I love my neighbors!
I guess what I’m saying to Christians is this: Don’t fear man. Love God. Love Him more and more with each passing day, so that your love for Him will spill over, and so that, if times of persecution come, where you are no longer free to speak the most precious of names, then you will already have formed a habit of courage in far less risky times.
And what I would say to the unbeliever is this: Jesus is more magnificent and lovely than you (or I) could even imagine. Cast your affections on Him. Live your life for His kingdom and His righteous, that He so freely gifts us with! You will find the fulfillment and purpose that you’ve been looking for. It’s found in Him!
And to my beautiful Russian family: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation… Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revalation 2:10)
God bless you all!