Daily Devotional for Friday April 18, 2008

Taking a Stand for our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters in Christ in China

(James 4:17, 1:22)

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17

Taking a stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in China. The spotlight of the world will soon be shining on China as they host the upcoming Summer Olympics. While each day I challenge people of faith to witness to others, in China, men and women who know Jesus are being imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for telling others about Jesus. For most in the United States who know Jesus as their Savior, going to church is nothing special, some even view it as a great sacrifice. In China, it really can be a great sacrifice to go to church, since Christians are routinely thrown into prison, beaten, and even killed just for attending church services.

While the focus of the world in a few months will be on China, the Chinese government will be doing their best to show China as a wonderful place. You will see all of the "feel-good" stories showcasing their modern industries and economy. I highly doubt anyone will have the guts to tell the truth about what is happening to Christians in China, and the persecution they face for being a follower of Jesus Christ. I know calling for a boycott of the Olympics to protest the persecution of Christians is a wasted effort. If the politicians really cared about this issue, they would have already acted in some meaningful way, other than having our diplomats telling China that we don't agree with them on how they treat Christians. So after much prayer, here is the plan the Holy Spirit gave me that we are going to be working on for the upcoming Olypmics in China.

Liveprayer is going to be in contact with the athletes of not just the United States Olympic team, but ALL of the Olympic athletes who will be competing in Beijing this August. I am going to challenge those athletes who know the Lord as their Savior to take a black marker and put a cross on the palm of their hand, as a sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in China who are being persecuted, even killed, for their faith in Jesus. I pray that every Christian athlete will compete with the black cross on the palm of their hand, and those who God leads to win medals, will open their hand on the medal platform for the world to see.

Will this simple act end the persecution of Christians in China? No. However, it will be a reminder to the world of what the Chinese government is doing to Christians who live in their country. It is also an acknowledgment of all those Christians who have been martyred in China for their faith in Christ, as well as recognizing those brave soldiers of Christ throughout the world who have sacrificed, and are sacrificing each day, to bring the Gospel to the Chinese people. I pray that one day very soon, the Chinese government will relent and allow the Chinese people to have access to Bibles and the Gospel without restriction, to have church and worship the Lord without interference or censorship, and to freely witness to others their faith in Jesus Christ.

James 4:17 is often referred to in theological circles as the sin of omission. The fact is, it is the sin most Christians commit each and every day. It is just as much of a sin in God's eyes as a sin of commission such as adultery, murder, or any other sin. To not do the good we know we ought to, is just as much a sin as any sinful act we might commit. We simply don't have the luxury of sitting back and watching unrighteousness and not speak out. We were first introduced to Saul of Tarsus in Acts Chapter 7 as he was committing the sin of omission, giving his approval to the stoning of Stephen as he held the coats of those who were stoning him to death. Even though he didn't hurl one rock, he was as guilty as those who did by his silence as they killed an innocent man.

I have never been what someone would call a Christian activist. I appreciate those who are led to work in this area, but I have always taken the approach that true change is made one heart at a time. We can't eliminate pornography from the Internet, but we can change the hearts of those who look at it. We will never win the mythical drug war by locking people up, seizing shipments of drugs, or burning the fields they are grown in. We win by changing the heart of the person who is using drugs. The way to ultimately stop abortion is by changing the hearts of the women who make the decision to kill their baby. So my approach has always been to attack the root of the problem, sin, and help people find a new life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, I cannot sit back and watch things go on around me that are just absolutely wrong and keep silent.

So many Christians are content to sit on the sidelines, listening, watching, experiencing the fullness of the Christian life vicariously through others. One of the popular Christian magazines each month has become little more than an advertising vehicle for this Holy Ghost Conference, that Camp meeting of the Millennium, the annual Partners Only Crusade, Women's meetings, Men's meetings, and on, and on, and on. The point I want to make is that the people of God have gotten very fat and lazy with all of the Christian celebrities and the Christian entertainment that our culture has produced. Too many of God's people have become lazy and more comfortable sitting on the sidelines watching, which was never God's plan.

I am a big believer in education and listening to God's anointed teachers of the Word to learn all we can. But while we are hearing the Word, we, also, must be DOING THE WORD! All of the commands in the Gospels, the Book of Acts, Paul's letters, and the other New Testament writings were to be active participants in our faith-helping others, witnessing, teaching new believers. God gives spiritual gifts to His people to be active DOERS of the Word, not idle bystanders. He has given each one of His children gifts and abilities to help advance the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught in many parables that it is a sin to not utilize the gifts God has given you. I want to make sure you clearly understand today, that it is a sin to not use the gifts and talents God has blessed you with to serve Him.

That does not mean you have to quit your job and become a missionary to a third-world country, or sell everything to start a ministry. God may call you to do that. However, for most of His children, He has called you to serve Him exactly where you are today. It is no accident you live where you live, go to school where you do, work where you do, or recreate and shop where you do. God has placed you there strategically to be a light to others. The most effective way we can serve God is in our normal day-to-day life. Letting our Godly lifestyle be a living testimony to those we come in contact with. Helping those around us in a time of need. Getting involved in projects and ministries through our local church.

I love you and care about you so much. Please pray today for the Lord to bless this effort to bring the world's attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ living in China. Pray for those who bravely take the Gospel to that nation each day, literally risking their very lives to do so. I will be praying for you today, that these words will cause you to stop and reflect on your life. Ask yourself if you are on the sidelines or are actively living the Christian life God has called you to live. Are you using your gifts and talents for Him? Take inventory today of whether you are not only hearing the Word, but DOING the Word. I want to see you be all you can be and all God has called you to be for Him.

Remember, our greatest and most effective service is rarely those big things we may be involved in for the Kingdom, but the quiet, one-on-one ministry to someone who is hurting and looking for hope. Everyone who knows Christ can tell someone that Jesus loves them. Everyone that knows Christ can testify to what Jesus has meant in their life. Everyone who knows Christ can share the love and hope we have in Him with someone. Become a DOER of the Word and don't be guilty of the sin of omission!