Thursday, June 21, 2007

Commitment to Conviction Part 2

Part one of this article discussed the torture and murder of three men, Tilman Ekkehart Geske, Pastor Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel. They were tortured and murdered because they were Christians who were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The “Comments” section attempted to clear up what we know about these men.

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]

Part 2 was supposed to be a look at this heinous act from another point of view.

Five young men (19 and 20 year olds) carried out the premeditated torture and murder of these three men. They did it in the name of ‘Allah’. However, their commitment to their conviction failed them. Their plan was supposed to be - torture and murder these three Christian men - then die ‘in a blaze of glory’ martyrs - in a ‘suicide by cop’ pact. Their faith failed. Three surrendered, one was hiding, and the fifth (the ringleader) injured himself falling off a drainpipe as he tried to get away.

The real question we should ask is, “Are we like the three missionaries or are we like their attackers?”

Pointedly - How committed to our conviction that Jesus Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead and gave us the ORDER to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ are we?

Every day in this world, Christians die for simply being Christians. Every day in this world, Christians die for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hear their stories and we cry, we feel sad, maybe we even send an ‘extra’ monetary gift to a mission project.

As Elisabeth Eliot quotes L.E. Maxwell, “O Lord, deliver us from our sad, sweet, stinking selves!” [1]

We do not have to die to prove we are committed to our conviction. We do not have to be, as Loren Bishop said, “…part of the 'martyr' crowd who could hardly wait to show their zeal. We were often 'persecuted for righteousness' sake'…” [2] Seeking persecution for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What we do need to do is evidence our commitment to our conviction by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is our command to do. [3]

Are we taking every opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we making opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we following the example of these men who were tortured and killed because of their commitment? Alternatively, are we following the example of the murders, when it comes to sharing the Gospel - do we balk sometimes?

Are we following the example of Mr. Genor, a man who for 40 years on the streets of Sydney, Australia, handed out gospel tracts with the question, “If you die tonight will you go to heaven?” [4] Are we following the example of Fred Server - of whom it was said, “Every one who has met Fred has heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” [5]

If we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are we ashamed that OUR conduct is not always evidence of that commitment to a conviction. Once while driving with Fred (who was a safe, considerate, defensive driver), he noticed an ‘Icthus’ (Fish emblem) on the back of a car. Fred remarked he would never put one on his own car - because he did not want people to equate his driving with his Christianity…

Are there people that we are ASHAMED to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with because they have seen our conduct? How often is that the case? We do not want to share the Gospel, not because of the Gospel but because of our own example. It is not a matter of persecution; instead, it becomes a matter of embarrassment. Do we say to ourselves, “If my life is ‘The only Bible some people will ever read’, then there are some people I do not want to read it?”

We need to remember - The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for sinners. It saves sinners from the penalty of sin - it does not make them (us) perfect. As it says in “One Liners” - God does not call the qualified He qualifies the called. If He only called the qualified - Jesus would be the only person in Heaven. The bottom line is that none of us is perfect. While the God calls us to godliness - He commands us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the lessons learned from Fred and others is that the more energy spent on sharing the Gospel, the less energy one has to pursue sin. [6]

[1] Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates Of Splendor, Epilogue 2, pages 270-271

[2] see the ‘Comments’ from “Commitment to Conviction Part 1” Loren does point out that sometimes what we call ‘persecution’ is instead others unwillingness to tolerate our attitude.

[3] Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8

[4] Thanks to Brian Hedrick for sharing Mr. Genor’s testimony - it is in a video [here] posted on Brian’s Blog, “Only Look to Christ”. One amazing thing about Mr. Genor is that he faithfully ministered on the streets of Sydney for some 40 years - and it was only a few weeks before he died that he EVER heard that someone became a Christian because he shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. A commitment to a conviction evidenced by conduct - to share the Gospel for 40 years without knowing that anyone responded!

[5] One of the celebrants at Fred’s memorial service made the comment and it was affirmed by many others - Fred lived a life dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

[6] I can confidently say with Paul, 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”


Blogger Cleopas said...

Hi David,

What a remarkable contrast between the Christians and their 'zealous' attackers. The circumstances speaks volumes more than any article could express. But I think Paul gives us an insight into what everyone was thinking:

"...that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God."
(Phil 1:27-28)

In other words, both the Christians and the Muslims were hearing something from God in this episode, and neither could deny it. They all knew, from God Himself, that the Chrsitians were on their way to heaven and the Muslims to perdition.

About 30 minutes ago, we received news that my wife's 96 year old aunt in California has passed away. She had been a life-long Catholics, but for the last six years Nancy has been talking to her about the Lord and even designing a daily Bible study for her. Earlier, and then again about a month ago, Nancy sent her a very kind but frank letter about the gospel and being saved.

Now that she has passed, we have a comfort in believing that she is with the Lord. Her other relatives probably don't know much about this; but when the family gathers, Nancy will find a ready audience when she explains it and reads the same letter to them. A comfort over Aunt Mary, and an inroad to their own lives. Sounds a little like Fred Server, to me.

One last thought. It is true, we are never going to be perfect on this earth. Even the best Christian is a filter if you are looking through the life of a man to see Jesus. But just possibly, Christians are overly concerned in this area. I mean this very sincerely, so here's the truth.

Christians, by the nature of their devition, have a much higher standard of conduct than non-believers. Even if we 'blow it' in our own eyes and do something wrong, it may be something that the non-believer thinks nothing of. It may still be higher than his own level of faulting a person. So let's not allow the enemy to condemn nor deter us. Part of what that unbeliever may just see is that in fallng, we get up again.

Thanks for sharing this article. This perspective is going to bounce around in my thoughts for awhile.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Cleopas said...

Hi David,

Happy Independence Day!


4:44 PM  

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