We can do it all. We’ve got this. We’re educated to a pretty good level, we might not have tons of money but we’ve probably got basically enough compared to a lot of people, we’re protected by the law and we have competent security services designed to look out for people. All this means we’ve got a good framework for building a career, growing a family, serving in our churches and communities, maybe owning a home. Not everything goes our way and we all know that none of this in itself brings happiness, but we’re basically set to be able to do it all. Correct?
Nope. Christians know that God’s work in our world is a massive demonstration of grace: we cannot save ourselves; we must have Jesus to do that work for us.
And for those whose communities persecute them because they love Jesus, God’s abundant grace is the only way they can do it all: “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
All suffering should lead us back to God, but there’s something extra poignant about suffering rooted in very relationship with that God. To trust in the God to whom commitment is the cause of your suffering requires a dependence on God that is far beyond what those of us who live self-sufficiently can really imagine. And we can learn so much from our persecuted family when we look to their dependence on God’s grace to sustain them through the fire of persecution.
Jars of Clay, (get your copy here) says “Humanly speaking, persecution is more likely to lead us to hide, to be silent, or, worse, even to deny our faith – if all we had were our own resources and strength. But the resources we need are found in the Lord himself. Persecution teaches this. It exposes the inadequacy of a ‘self-sufficient’ attitude to life and deepens our desire for God’s sustaining grace.”
In the book of Hebrews Christians are called to persevere through persecution. It builds to a great command to run with endurance the race of faith, continuing to look to Jesus. When we look to the persecuted and watch them run this difficult race of faith with perseverance and dependence on God’s grace for their success, we get a chance to change up our view of faith and to seek and desire grace in a whole new way.
And when we know God’s grace, we learn how to show it: in forgiveness. One of the most frequent testimonies that come from persecuted communities is the willingness of the persecuted to forgive the persecutor. This isn’t because they are super-holy super-Christians; this is because they desire and require God’s necessary and active grace in their lives and when we know God’s grace we can show God’s grace.
So change it up. Learn from the persecuted, follow their example: desire grace, persevere through trials, forgive.
Maybe you want to be part of a community of people changing it up! Check out what Release Potential is getting up to with our Changemaker programme and become a Changemaker yourself! Find us and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.