For the Joy Set Before Him
In the spring of 1999 I committed my life to following Jesus the Christ. The previous year I almost died in an automobile accident that I miraculously walked away from. I spent a year seeking God through reading the Bible and listening to Christian radio. I was led to Christ by reading a book called, “Power for Living,” by Jamie Buckingham. I sent for this book because I saw a commercial with the late great NFL legend Reggie White, telling me I needed the book. The day I got it, I read it and finally understood of my need for Jesus to be Lord of my life. I finally understood Jesus paid the price for me and I needed to trust Him only for the salvation of my soul.
Today, I find myself here 16 years later on Easter Sunday. I have been seeking to serve Him with my life. As I have grown in the Lord, I have become more aware of the suffering of Christians in other places. Just today, I was sent a prayer request for people ministering in a difficult area on Easter Sunday. We Americans tend to forget that many of our brothers and sisters are suffering and live under the fear of terrorism. Many of us don’t realize that identifying with the name of Jesus is at great cost in other areas of the world.
This week, Christians in Kenya are dealing with the aftermath of a shooting that targeted them. As we celebrate Easter and we consider how great a salvation we share in Christ, consider praying for and understanding the persecuted church. Why is it important to mention? I am fascinated that in a land with millions of people who identify themselves as believers in Jesus that the media is still focusing on the wrong stories.
Over 140 people died and some of them were asked if they believed in Jesus prior to the shooting. If they answered yes, they were shot. These are your brothers and sisters in Christ and mine. It reminds me of a sermon manuscript written to some persecuted Christians known to us as the book of Hebrews. Jesus was to be our example. “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).” A person who says yes to believing in Jesus under this type of pressure believes with all of their heart that Jesus truly did raise from the dead 2000 years ago. They truly do believe in the resurrection we celebrate today. They believe it because Jesus Christ changed their life, just like He did mine. Consider this Easter while the media seeks the wrong people to interview and ponder deep thoughts over the florist, the baker and the pizza maker. Consider that for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross despising its shame. Also consider why the powers that be are not as interested in innocent people who were willing to die for their Savior. Could it be that they just do not identify with this type of commitment or belief in this Jesus?