I know I'm not going to do this blog justice, especially after letting you know that it's an important one to me, but I'll try anyway.
I am currently reading the book, Tortured for Christ, by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. This book is written more like a journal or memoir, which to me makes it more intriguing and intimate. When I decided to read Tortured for Christ, I was prepared to endure descriptions of brutal physical and mental torture. What I wasn't prepared for was the extremely powerful challenge that has been made to my heart. Mr. Wurmbrand actually refrains from going into extreme detail on the physical/mental torture aspects, due to the fact that it would cause him to relive it all over again and cause him great distress. He doesn't hold back, though, on bringing to light the callousness that those of us in the West have toward our brothers and sisters who undergo such tremendous persecution. He says that he actually suffers more in the West than he ever did in a communist prison! How could that be? He states that one reason he suffers in the West is due to our complacency as compared to the Underground Church he was involved with in Russia. He says, "The Underground Church is a poor and suffering church, but it has few lukewarm members." He goes on to say, "Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches. I suffer in the West more than I suffered in a Communist jail because now I see with my own eyes Western civilization dying." Mr. Wurmbrand uses the term "spiritual beauty" and "beautiful" to describe the Underground Church several times.
Another way he has challenged me is in the area of loving my enemies. After being stripped away from his family and years and years of brutal torture, Mr. Wurmbrand states that he loves those who tortured him because "Christ loves the Communists and other 'enemies of the faith'. They can and must be won for Christ." This started me thinking about my attitude towards those who inflict pain and death upon present day Christians. I have been wishing these people to be eradicated, but I have not been wishing them to be saved. I guess I've even thought it was impossible for such radicals to be saved, they're too far gone, right? No! Saul - later known as Paul, was a radical, wasn't he? He was doing exactly what people are doing today. But I haven't been loving them. I haven't had a heart for the lost - period. God has really been working on me in this area, though. It's a daily thing. I have to really meditate on what Christ says about loving the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. Love my neighbors as myself, and to love my enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. (Lev. 19:18, Mark 12:30-32, Matt. 5:43-44).
I really don't think I can put into words how much this book, Tortured for Christ has challenged my spiritual thought life and my prayer life. I strongly encourage you to read this book and subscribe to the Voice of the Martyrs magazine if you haven't already. I don't know about you but I'm tired of being complacent and lukewarm. I don't want to be persecuted like so many saints have, but I do want to be on fire for Christ like they are. I want to cherish each and every copy of the Bible that I have (and I have several) because there are so many who risk their lives just for a page or even a mere verse so that they can have God's holy word in their hands. There is so much that I've taken for granted and it shames me to admit it. I pray that after I finish reading this book that I won't just put it aside and forget the challenges, but that I will strive to run the race with more fervor and zeal than I ever have before.