A man we know recently returned from a trip to Egypt and shared the evidence of God at work in that place. While there is religious persecution in Egypt, there is a growing community of Christian converts. It made me think of the hardships many Christians face.
Because we live with relative religious freedom in North America, it’s hard to imagine places around the world where the church is forced underground, where Christians face great opposition, where they may actually lose their lives. When we read accounts of those martyred for Christ, I often wonder if I would be willing to stand for Him in the face of persecution. Would I be like Peter? In Matthew 26:31-35, 36-75, the story of Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus is told.
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I WILL STRIKE THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK WILL BE SCATTERED.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples…
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
My desire is that I would stand for Him. In the big things and in the little things. The reality, I’m ashamed to say, is that I have already avoided confessing Him at times. I am thankful that He is faithful even when I am not. Even so, with courage from Him, I pray that I will boldly profess His name, regardless of circumstances, even if the end is death. Oh, that I would be like Stephen who, even as he was attacked and stoned for speaking truth, proclaimed His name to the end. “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” and later cried out, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” (Acts 7:55, 56, 60)
Our friend explained the practice of tattooing a cross near the thumb or on the inside of the forearms by Coptics, a symbol to show their faith in Christ. The cross tattoo has also been used to easily identify Christians as they gather.
One man also humbly shared that the permanent image of the cross on his wrist would confess the Lord Jesus even if his lips would deny Him in the presence of persecution.
May I always stand for You…