The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).





Of Bradley County Tn.


APRIL  2006

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

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A Matter Of Faith

Are we worthy?

by Pastor Joel Lawler

In Kabul Afghanistan, Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old who converted to Christianity from Islam more than 14 years ago faces the death penalty for his faith. If he converts back to Islam, he will be freed. He refuses to do so. By the time you read this, he may have already been killed.

This is one story among thousands. In countries like China, many are tortured and killed for their faith. In some countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, being a Christian is a capital offense and punishable by death.

Christians suffering for their faith is nothing new. The early Christians were persecuted severely.
Hebrews 11:35b-38

"...Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground."

Pastor Joel Lawler
joellawler@yahoo.com

The Apostle Paul who authored a majority of the New Testament faced many terrible situations on account of his faith.
2 Corinthians 11:23b-27

"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked."

I drive by huge church buildings that have cost millions of dollars to construct. In their parking lots sit cars that are easily worth $30k or more. The Christians are not oppressed but prospering. There is money to be made as a Christian.

There are Christian book publishers, music companies, movie studios, radio stations and television stations. I even have seen the "Christian Fish" incorporated into a business logo for a plumbing company.

Not only is Christianity financially lucrative, it is also politically expedient. Every person running for president has claimed to be a Christian. Our government does not oppress Christianity but caters to it.

Why is Christianity unopposed in the U.S.? Why is it that throughout history and throughout most of the rest of the world those who claim to follow Christ pay a stiff price, some even their lives, but here it is not only acceptable but expected?

If the cost of following Christ is so high elsewhere, why is it so cheap here?
Could it be that the message of Christ has been compromised? Have we sanitized it or deluded it to the point that it is palatable?

In the Hebrews 11 passage it says that those who were persecuted "the world was not worthy of them." Is the world worthy of us American Christians?
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