'They become identified with that instrument of shame and death which they have found to be life-giving…'
I’ve just been reading through an edition of ‘barnabas aid’, the magazine of barnabas fund, an organization focused on ‘hope and aid for the persecuted Church’. A friend was handing out backdated editions that had been gathering dust on his bookshelf in the hope of raising awareness as to what some of our brothers and sisters are going through around the world.
As I turn the pages there is story after story from across the globe about followers of the Lord Jesus under immense pressure in situations where life is incredibly difficult, whether that be because of violent persecution, famine, or the the plight of the ‘invisible Christians’ in Iraq who are ignored and neglected by all authority in their country.
Yesterday evening a friend and I were reading Colossians 1. One of the most striking things, as Paul prays for the Christians in Colossae, is his request that they may be ‘strengthened with all power, according to [God’s] glorious might…’. Why is this so striking? Because of the manner in which Paul sees this power taking shape: ‘…for all endurance and patience with joy…’ (Col 1.11).
This may sound like a dull and drab characteristic of the Christian life, but for Paul it is of immense importance, and I have no doubt that our brothers and sisters featured in the eye-opening articles I read this morning would affirm the priority ‘endurance and patience’ must hold. Indeed it is nothing less than a gift from God. In my comparatively ‘comfy’ Western context, do I see the need, do I have the same desperate necessity, for endurance and patience? If not, am I viewing ‘walking in Him’ in a distorted manner?
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