Are You Just Comfortable or Truly Committed to Christ? 1 Peter 1:3-12
An organization that seeks to bring awareness to persecuted Christians called Voice of the Martyrs publishes a list of imprisoned Christians that you can pray for and also petition for their release. Here is one of the stories that currently appears on their site, prisonalert.com.
Chinese Pastor Li Juncai is currently serving a prison sentence of five and a half years after protesting the government’s attempts to remove a cross atop his church building in 2019.
When authorities brought a crane to remove the cross, a group of Christian senior citizens, mostly women, met the plainclothes policemen and their crane. They sang hymns and prayed while attempting to keep the authorities from taking the cross.
Police beat and arrested the protestors before forcing the church gate open and removing the cross.
The next day, Religious Affairs authorities removed signs from inside the church building and forced church members to fly China’s national flag from the front of the church. Many churches are now required to do the same, along with hanging an image of President Xi Jingpin in the sanctuary and installing security cameras facing the congregation.
Pastor Li Juncai was charged with embezzlement and obstructing government administration, sentenced to five and a half years in prison and given a fine of more than $7,000 USD.
700-800 continue to worship at that church despite their pastor being in prison, their senior adult ladies beaten, and cameras installed by the government watching every move they make while they gather for worship.
If that was Liberty, would you be back next Sunday?
On the same day that I read the post about Pastor Li Juncai’s arrest and his senior adult women beaten, I received an email update from Baptist Press. The top article: SWATH OF COMMITTED CHRISTIANS DON’T ATTEND CHURCH MONTHLY.
Now get this. The article is about why “committed Christians” in American don’t go to church, even once a month.
The next article on the list was a survey of pastors about what sort of idols they thought were influencing people in their church.
#1 - comfort. As I interpreted it, that means the number one driver of our church involvement to attend or not to attend is comfort.
And so, churches in American, cater to comfort. As a result we have produced a consumer driven, comfortable version of what we call Christianity.
When the senior adult women were beaten at Pastor Juncai’s church, I would think that was uncomfortable. Having a government camera staring at you every Sunday to monitor you with the threat of the service being raided and you arrested - uncomfortable.
Comfort. Is it a good location? What do they have for my family? Do I feel good today? Are we too tired? Is it too cold? Is the music too loud? Does the preacher go too long? Do I get anything out of it? Do I have time? What else is going on? I like this. I don’t like that. Is there any threat of being beaten and arrested today for attending church?
Can you imagine how church attendance in our area would be affected if the women in the senior adult ministry were beaten by the police?
I think at that point we would find out who is about comfort and who is truly committed.
What’s the difference between people who are willing to be beaten for Christ and people who’s top determining factor of church involvement is comfort?
The people to whom Peter is writing are suffering. Life for them is uncomfortable, yet they are deeply committed. Why? What’s the difference in their faithfulness and our fickleness? The answer to that question is critical, because they have found what we all really want. We all want something eternal and deeply life altering don’t we?
As we walk through the next couple of paragraphs of 1 Peter 1 I want us to look at these truths to which Peter points them and ask a series of questions that will help us to determine if we are just comfortable or truly committed.
- Do I love Jesus or just like church?
- Am I born again or just afraid of being burned?
- Am I willing to be refined or am I waiting to be offended?
- Do I have a relationship with Jesus or jut a religion in Jesus' name?
- Am I about the end goal or the immediate gain?
- Is my version of Christianity worth the sacrifice of the prophets or the interest of angels?