2 Kings 3:1-4:17
Recently I re-listened to a message I had heard at a Biola conference. It was Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales! I was there when he spoke and it was really cool to be in a room FULL of people who all grew up watching Larry the cucumber and Bob the tomato. I'll post the video here if you find an hour to watch it...it's really good.
Phil talks in the video about the Shunammite woman, that's why I bring this up. I won't try and summarize it...I think you should just click on the video and listen to what Phil says about it, it really affected me. Plus, he's a funny and honest guy, a really good storyteller.
My family and I have been working our way through a season of the TV show "24." Simply put, it's about the team of people working to stop terrorism in America. It's really addicting, we all really like it. Though what I'm about to talk about doesn't exactly make it sound like a very good show to watch...
There are many instances in the show when terrorists find civilians and pressure them to help them do what they can't themselves. A terrorist will keep you at gunpoint until you finish fixing their weapon. A terrorist will threaten to kill your wife if you don't deliver a package. Or a terrorist will torture you until you assemble their bomb.
My family and I always get so upset when the civilians give in..."they're going to kill you anyway! Don't help them!" We want them to do the right thing, but almost every time the people give in to fear...give in to self-preservation...and almost every time whatever they did leads to the death of thousands of innocent people. It's human nature! How many things are there in this life really worth withstanding torture? How many things will we never sway on no matter what evil comes our way?
But last night as I watched...through the cracks of my fingers with my ears plugged (I have knack for this)...a terrorist torture a civilian with a bat...dunking his head in a bathtub...using a drill on his skull...I thought about people who have suffered persecution in the Name of Jesus. This stuff is real. Terrorists today do this to people and will stop only if the Christian will renounce Jesus Christ. And today I read about Paul being stoned! And Jesus enabled him to somehow walk away from that!
Lee Strobel talks about this is Case for Christ. Lee Strobel was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and ended up finding the truth: Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. One of the things he discovered was that the faith and strength the suffering persecuted early Christians maintained was against human nature. In "24" no one is able to keep their stuff together under torture! Everyone eventually cracks! And yet the early Christians endured nothing less than the most violent and disgusting things mankind was capable of and they never cracked. Lee Strobel recognized that is a sign that they did not make it up! They knew Jesus and knew He was God!
I think the typical reaction I hear to the stories of suffering Christians is, "wow, do I have enough faith to do that?" And make it about the sufferer...the Christian..wow look at their faith. But I don't think that's the right reaction. It's not a bad reaction, it's just not the fullest most truthful reaction. Because the truth is, Paul himself said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." It's not about the Christians, it's about Jesus Himself!
Human beings are capable of atrocities. Torture! The things people are somehow able to bring themselves to do to each other! The evil we are capable of holds so much more power than we know. But the ultimate power is in Jesus Christ. We are able to do anything, withstand anything, keep our faith through anything by the power of Jesus Christ.
I don't know if I will ever be tortured for the sake of Christ. I don't want to be! But at the same time I welcome the chance to see just how powerful Christ can be in me. All the atrocities mankind is capable of? They don't stand a chance against the power of our Lord and Savior who has ALREADY defeated death.