What would I do if someone put a knife to my neck and told me to renounce my faith in Jesus Christ? What would you do? With the way the world is, not such a remote possibility anymore. I pray that I would say ‘no’ to the infidels and ‘yes’ to my Lord, who has always been faithful to me.
But what happens when they bring out our children and grandchildren and put their lives on the line? Could I be that strong with their lives in the balance? Now the choice becomes unbearable. I imagine my faith would falter. I hear that this has happened, and am shocked at their lack of steadfast faith. But not when I think about it for a moment. How could I possibly criticize someone else’s faltering faith when I would probably do much the same.
I feel bad about that. No backbone for Jesus? I wonder how God would judge me. Not more with His mercy rather than my judgmental principles? Look at Jesus’ cousin…John the Baptist. He has been the most amazing evangelist, calling growing crowds of people to repentance and to Jesus the Messiah. His success is unparalleled.
But now, in prison, he’s wondering if Jesus really is the One he’s been looking for. His faith begins to falter. Here in Matthew 11, Jesus sends word back to prison for his cousin. Jesus is the Messiah. He is all that John expected of Him. In addition, He says that John is the greatest of all those ever born, including the prophets.
If John the Baptist’s faith can falter, who am I to find fault? Who am I to judge and criticize? Who am I to feel high-and-mighty when I have never been put in such circumstances. Nothing even close. Who am I to feel smug when I’m afraid to bring up Jesus’ name among some friends and family? A coward when the only persecution I’ve ever felt has come not from the flames on the stove but from the tiny pilot light.
What do we do? Pray for those who face such choices. Pray that God would strengthen and comfort them. Pray that their enemies would turn to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. Pray for the Lord to strengthen our weak knees so we can stand tall for Him. And when we falter in our faith, let’s remember that the greatest man, John the Baptist, and the greatest Apostle, Simon Peter, faltered in theirs only to find that their Lord was kind and forgiving and merciful. He strengthens us. Lifts us up and carries us. My faith may falter. Jesus never does! Do I hear an ‘Amen’?
Prayer: Lord, help any believers who face real persecution today. Give them your strength and your mercy. We pray for them. In Jesus. Amen!