Sunday, November 27, 2011

treasure in pots of clay

One of the enduring questions that Christians must ask themselves is why such terrible things are happening to them. From time to time I have posted about suffering Christians garnered from Open Doors or Barnabas Trust. It is not just in Muslim lands, but in parts of India, in former Communists states, In China and North Korea, but also in South America and in so-called Christian lands like Greece that true Christians are suffering. We have also seen Christians persecuted in Britain, Germany and America by secular humanists.

On an individual basis Christians do not have an especial prosperity or freedom from sickness compared to other people. Some Christians have lost their assurance because other Christians have told them that their faith is deficient and they cannot withstand the devil. This is all nonsense of course. A weak faith in a strong God is superior to a strong faith in a weak God.

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians chapter 4 v 7 Paul tells us that we have the treasure of the Gospel in jars of clay. We don't have the treasure in a fine setting like the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. It is not their setting that makes them beautiful; in fact the contrast of what we are like against the beauty of the truth is what enhances it.

It is all the more likely that when we are at our lowest will come the opportunity to share the Gospel.

There is no doubt that while the Arab Spring is a good time for freedom and democracy it is also a perilous time for Christians who are being persecuted in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and next in Syria. Yet in Mali, at the University of Timbuktu, where Christians are very few in number, a remarkable thing is happening. Muslims are seeing visions of a man in bright clothes carrying a book. There have been thousands of such visions and they want to know what it means.

There is a Muslim tradition that Jesus will return, but how to reconcile this vision of the Angel of the LORD with Jesus. They have sought out a solitary secret Christian and set him up in a stall in the Mosque where queues have gathered to quiz him about the story of Jesus. There have been many conversions. You see the vision has coincided with the translation by the Wycliffe Bible Translators of the New Testament into the local Malian language.

We should pray that as the church in North Africa is persecuted, that God would act supernaturally to overcome the Devil and work a great wonder of conversion in its wake. Perhaps our best approach for secular persecution in our own countries is prayer, not the law courts.

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