"Lips Are Given For Smiling"
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35)
In Communist China and other countries where believers are persecuted, there are now millions and millions of Christians, despite the persecution that is exercised. They meet in secret places with joyful hearts because they believe with the apostle that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38,39).
You should see how the persecuted Christians recite the Apostle's Creed. They state the same affirmation of faith that we recite in the West. But where there is persecution the Creed is said somehow in a different manner. You should see how they say it.
As they begin, their faces shine and their eyes are full of joy. They say, "I believe you, the persecutors, may not believe, but I am me. I am not you and if the whole world would not believe, I believe, I believe in the one God, the Father almighty. He has made not only the visible things but many invisible things. He has made not only the earth but a beautiful heaven, and if you put me in jail, if you take away my life on this earth, I would have a heaven."
They say, "I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" and they finish the Creed as we finish it. "I believe in the resurrection of the body and in life everlasting."
I give you the good news that persecution and torture did not break their faith but made it stronger. We have unknown numbers of brothers and sisters in jail, but they have kept the same faith that you have.
I do not know how often you sing to the glory of God. Some Christians sing only once a week, on Sunday; others sing throughout the week.
We, in prison, sang every day and every Christian in jail had a musical instrument. The Communists were nice: every Christian, when he entered jail, received a musical instrument. Not a guitar but chains on his hands and feet. Chains are splendid musical instruments. We could sing, "Onward Christian soldiers (clink, clank), marching as to war (clink, clank, clink, clank)." The words of praise and glorification of God never cease.
The brethren in Communist and Muslim prisons pray for you. You should also pray for them and think about them with love. Do not think that they sit there in their prison cells, very sad and brooding. There is a joy in their hearts because Christ is with them.
One of our brethren was arrested. They beat and tortured him because he did not wish to denounce his faith. The Communist officer who led the interrogation said, "I am tired. We will not beat you any more. We will deport you to Siberia where the snow never melts. It is a place of great suffering. We will deport you and your whole family to Siberia."
The brother smiled. Lips are given to us for smiling; a Christian can smile even in moments of great sorrow. The Christian replied with a smile, "Captain, where can you deport me? The whole earth belongs to my Father. Wherever you send me I will be on my Father's earth."
Now the Communist got very angry. He said, "We will confiscate all your property." The Christian continued to smile and said, "You are free to take all my property, but I pity you because I have gathered my treasures in heaven and you will need a very high ladder. If you find such a ladder, you will have to climb and climb and climb. If you arrive there, you can take everything I have. On earth I have nothing."
Now the officer thought he was being mocked. He shouted, "We will shoot you!" The Christian still replied with a smile, "If you take away my life in this world, my real life of bliss and beauty will begin. I am not afraid of being killed." The Communist yelled at him, "We will not kill you! We will keep you alone in a cell behind locked doors and iron bars, and we will allow no one to come to see you!" The Christian, still smiling, replied: "You cannot make me sit alone in a cell. I have a Friend who can pass through locked doors and iron bars. No one can separate me from the love of the Messiah."
That is the experience we had in jail. Other Christians and I experienced it in our jail; my wife and other Christians had it in their jail. Alexei Kortov, a pastor who was in jail in Russia for 45 years, had also the same hope and joy.
Our brothers and sisters have learned what it means when they repeat the words found in the Creed," I believe."
You have all passed through different experiences. Every one of you, every day, have before you different choices and decisions. Christ is purity; if you are impure, you deny Christ. Christ is truth. When you lie, you deny Christ. Christ is love and peace. When you quarrel and when you hate, you deny Christ. Do not be hypocrites. Let us be Christians who express joy to our Savior.
Let us each love Him with all our heart. We are not put to the same tests as our brethren in Communist and Islamic countries. But Messiah looks to the heart. May He see men and women who love Him with all their hearts, who will not be separated from the love of Messiah.
May God bless you for your prayerful help, which we share with the persecuted Church.