Convicted in a Lithuanian court, Nijole Sadunaitae awaited her sentencing. Her only crime was being a Christian in a Communist country. The judge offered Nijole a chance to speak, fully expecting her to plead for mercy. Instead, Nijole smiled as she said " This is the happiest day of my life. I am on trial for the cause of truth and love towards men. I have an enviable fate, a glorious destiny. My condemnation here in this courtroom will be my ultimate triumph."
"We are not going to torture you anymore." Paulus wondered what the Soviet officers words meant. He had been tortured and abused for several hours, and all for the crime of following Jesus Christ. Challenging the pain that bent him over, Paulus sat up to hear the soldier continue.
"No, we are not going to torture you anymore. We are sending you to Siberia where the snow never melts. It is a place of great suffering." And with mocking laughter the officer added, " You and your family will fit in very well there."
Paulus response surprised the uniformed Soviet. He smiled and told his captors, "The whole earth belongs to my Father, Wherever you send me, I will be on my Fathers earth. The Captain mocked Paulus's optimism. "We will take away all you own. We will put a bullet between your eyes."
Paulus smiled and responded "You will need a high ladder, Captain. My treasures are stored up in heaven. If you take away my life in this world, my real life of joy and beauty will begin. I am not afraid of being killed."
The Christians confidence angered the captain. He grabbed Paulus by his tattered prison shirt and screamed in his face, "Then we shall not kill you . We will keep you locked in a cell, alone, and allow no one to come and see you."
Paulus smiled and humbly said "You cannot do that sir. You see, I have a friend who can pass through locked doors and iron bars. No one, not even you can separate me from the Love of Christ."..........Paulus and his wife and family were all sent to Siberia.(Voice of the Martyrs)
You might think that these stories are of extraordinary people. You might be tempted to think that these were people called and anointed to do exploits for God. The truth is, these were ordinary Christians.
You might think to yourself, no, these were awesome Christians, I am an ordinary Christian. You might think that, but it is not true. We Christians in the West cannot be described as ordinary Christians, not in the true historical sense. For the last 2000 years, true Christianity has been marked by Love of God. A people who are mere pilgrims here on this earth, just passing through, with an allegiance to a kingdom that is, but is yet to come. Our citizenship is in heaven.
Today, we are so steeped in the world, that the world cannot tell us apart from them. We demand that our rights be met. If we have our coat stolen by an enemy, instead of giving him our cloak as well, we get a Christian lawyer and take him to court and sue him.
If we are slapped on the face, we slap right back in our own defense. How is it that the culture of the day has so infiltrated the church that we have ceased to be a counter culture, but a merely a subculture, if even that? Listen to what A.W.Tozer said, over half a century ago.....................
"We now demand glamor and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic results of this spirit are all about us: shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities,quasi-religious fellowships, salesman-ship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit. These, and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul."
If we are to live as we have been called, then we must lift our eyes off the world and onto Jesus. He must mean more to us than anything. We simply cannot pursue God and pursue the world. Where does our treasure really lie? If we want to know where our treasure is, we just have to look at our time and resources.
My prayer today, is that, with all our heart, we will pursue God. Talk to Him all day long, "practice the presence of God," as brother Lawrence put it many centuries ago.
It is the presence of God that is the true reality of this world. You can read the Word from back to front, but outside of His presence, we would just be Pharisees. His presence must be experienced, it is not a head-knowledge, it is experienced and it is reality, true reality.
Lord, I pray this day that we, brothers and sisters in Christ, will walk in the reality of your presence all the time. I pray against the reality of this world that would seek to overwhelm and replace your reality, your experienced reality, in the lives of your children. I pray that you would place a deep hunger and thirst in your children where it does not exist. And I pray that as we cast our eyes upon Jesus and look full into His wonderful face, that the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.....Frank