Saturday, April 29, 2006

1 Peter 4:7-19

The end of all things is near... how many times in the last 2000 years have people, and especially Christians, thought (or written/spoken) those words? If you put those words on a banner, or maybe in your blog, you expose yourself to mockery. However, in this country of nominally free speech, persecution is not something we experience the way Peter experienced it.

For those of us living and worshipping comfortably here in the U.S., persecution seems very far away in space and time. Until you start Googling.

This week (4/22 - 30) is North Korea Freedom Week, focusing on arguably the worst persecuting regime in the world. About 200,000 Christians are currently in labor camps there, experiencing torture and worse. One estimate posits a figure of over 2 million deaths in the past 10 years resulting from that persecution.

Other parts of the world are troubled as well, to quote some recent headlines:
Pakistani Christians Given Homes, Jobs if They Convert to Islam
The Emergence of a 'Coptic Question' in Egypt
Martyrs' Children Suffer as Indonesia's Anti-Christian Persecution ...
US Lawmaker Says China Returns North Korean Asylum Seekers
Persecuted Karen and Karenni Christians of Burma
Abuse of Chinese Christians persists as Hu Jintao visits ...

The list goes on and on.

What do we therefore do? Just as Peter says,
Be serious.
Discipline ourselves for the sake of prayer.
Maintain constant love.
Be hospitable.
Don't complain.
Serve one another with our gifts.
Speak the word of God.
Glorify God whatever happens from our giving or speaking.

And don't be surprised. Remember, love wins.

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