Thursday, May 03, 2007

Commitment to Conviction Part 1

Previously, we defined faith as a commitment to a conviction evidenced by conduct [1].

Let us turn our attention to the 18th of April and three men.

Tilman Ekkehart Geske
Pastor Necati Aydin
Ugur Yuksel

These three men may not be familiar to you. News of their deaths was not “Front Page News”. One may have heard about them vaguely. They were three Christian men (missionaries and pastors) murdered in Turkey.

The Associated Press records their murders as “with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit”. [I have] read other reports of their gruesome three hour torture that would make the most horrific horror movie seem tame by comparison.

We do not know if there was an attempt to make these men recant their faith [2].

We do know that these men were tortured and executed for one reason. They were tortured and murdered because they were Christians who were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ [3]. They daily shared the gospel in a predominately Muslim country with a history of violence towards Christians.

Simply put, these men were martyrs for their faith in Christ.

Think about that for a minute. These men died. They were tortured. Even without their throats slit, they would have died from the wounds they received. All their suffering and ultimately their deaths happened simply for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We do know they were men of God, by the example of their families afterward. “Susanne Geske (Tilman Geske’s widow) in a television interview [in Turkey] expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34)” [4].

This was a terrible thing. It should sadden us.

Now, consider the challenge. How often do we hesitate to share the gospel because of what others might think? We rationalize, justify, and hesitate because we might lose face. Maybe we are afraid we might lose our jobs, or we may lose ‘friends’ because we are telling them the ‘Good News’. The next time the opportunity presents itself and one finds one’s self hesitating - think. Think about Geske, Aydin, and Yuksel. Then think about the ETERNAL consequences of NOT sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the listener [5].

[1] Conversations with Fred part 4 [March 12, 2007]

[2] We have heard reports the torture was recorded on cell phones (and possibly video) but those have not been released (Thankfully).

[3] Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

[4] Excerpted from “A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna” Reported by Darlene N. Bocek -contact information:
* There is a graphic report of the torture of these men in this letter. If the above link fails the letter can be found by a “Google” search.

[5] 1 John 2:15-17 [The Message]


Blogger Cleopas said...

Hi David,

When I was a younger Christian I was part of the 'martyr' crowd who could hardly wait to show their zeal. We were often 'persecuted for righteousness' sake', meaning people had enough of our attitude and told us so.

But a real martyr receives grace in that hour that cannot be conjured beforehand. He can only trust in God, and indeed God is with him. Those who boast in themselves, like Peter: "I will neer forsake You!" are heading for a terrible fall.

Therefore let us trust fulkly in His grace and not in ourselves. After all, if it does proceed to martyrdom, which had the Lord intended?

8:23 PM  
Blogger Unchained Slave said...

I understand the idea of wanting to ‘prove our worth’ by being ‘persecuted for Christ’. It is definitely a pride sin - and like you pointed out, Peter’s downfall.

I also know God is faithful. From experience and study, the closer many Christians get to real threat of life and limb - the more they rely on God.

Tilman Ekkehart Geske, Pastor Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel were tortured and martyred for their faith.

I guess the point I was trying to make was unclear.
These were men of God. They were doing God’s work. They KNEW that they were targets of persecution. [Muslim leaders in Turkey and elsewhere have accused Christians of “stealing the souls of our babies”.]

They were still emboldened by the Holy Spirit not to be ashamed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Their faith sustained them to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even though they KNEW that it could cost them their lives.

They are shining examples of what it means to proclaim, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” [Romans 1:16]

WE, on the other hand are often ashamed to proclaim the Gospel because of what people might think or say about us. We most definitely should not SEEK persecution (that would prideful). On the other hand, we should be emboldened to speak when the Holy Spirit prompts us to speak. We should not shrink from that responsibility because of ‘peer pressure’. At the same time, if we do not live upright lives, then whatever we say will be ignored… The old saying comes to mind, “You are the only Bible some people will ever read.”

Our challenge is not to seek persecution - but to be faithfully not ashamed, in deed and word, so that when the opportunity arises we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ without mind to any consequences EXCEPT the Everlasting ones.

In Christ,

10:35 AM  

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