We often grow impatient with God. We fear He has forgotten us. We convince ourselves that our sins are so great that God no longer loves us.
We must remember: God’s love is perfect; His timing is impeccable. His ways are above our ways, and we cannot comprehend.
Only Trust Him.
Before we address core beliefs let’s first clarify some of the terms. First: the Church. One definition of “the Church” is the the whole body of believers through all time. In other words, every believer. If we limit that to our time, we may say that the Church is all believers, throughout the entire world. Someone recently asked what we mean by the Church in the West, a term we use frequently. By that, we mean the Church in Western Europe and the Americas.
Then what do we mean when we say “the body of believers?” It should go without saying that these believers are human who have chosen to follow Christ (thus they are called Christians, and collectively call themselves the Church). Humans are fallible, as we all know, but we would be remiss if we did not remind ourselves of that. We are not yet fully transformed into the perfect image of Christ. The body of believers are simply sinners who have found God’s forgiveness.
Another term that needs clarified is “Believer.” Not everyone who claims to believe is truly a part of the church. True believers find Christ living inside their hearts. They, therefore, act as His hands, His feet, His mouth, etc. They are the “body of Christ.” He lives through them and fills them with His perfect love.
It is to the true believers, the true Church, those through whom Christ lives, that I ask this question: if the Church becomes monitored or regulated, for what core beliefs will we stand?
We will not debate whether there will come a time when churches must be approved and licensed by the State and when pastors’ sermons must be submitted to some bureaucrat for approval. For the purposes of this series we assume that this will happen.
For what core beliefs do we then stand? Before we answer that question, let’s look at the persecuted church around the world. For this five-part series, we asked that same question – “For what core beliefs to do stand?” – of four friends around the world, two of whom face persecution for their beliefs and two of whom who live in areas where the Christian Church is monitored and licensed. In Part 1, we hear from Ezra, a friend who lives in a country in North Africa where the church is persecuted.
“I have seen it happen. Neighbors. Friends. Family. Christians disappear. They are taken away in the night. Some are taken from their home. In grimy of their children. You hope they are killed right away. If they live, they are tortured for days before their bodies are found.
“They ask you if you are Muslim. If not, they take your life. That easy. They take your children. Then it’s hard to be Christian.”
“What matters most?” I asked him. For what do you stand?
“That Christ sticks closer than a brother. That he give you unmistakable peace when that time comes. He puts words in your heart when they come for you. I have seen it. Men who were not learned, sharing the Gospel to those men who drag them away. They are Peter or Paul. God visits them when they are called home.”
I was not sure that Ezra understood my question. English is not his first language, so I had to wonder if he knew the difference between “For what core beliefs do you stand” and “On what core beliefs do you stand.” I want to know, what is it about life with Christ that you must share when your are prohibited from saying a single word. I sent him another email.
This time, I reworded the question. “What is it that your friends and family say to these men as they drag them away?”
“They tell them that they forgive them. And that they love them. And that they wish they would ask Jesus into their heart so that they could know love,” Ezra wrote.
“Is that what matters most?” I asked him again.
This was part of Ezra’s answer. “Jesus matter most. When he live in your heart. You know God’s true love.”