According to the January “Open Doors” newsletter, a Somali mother of four young children was killed by Muslim extremists when she confessed her conversion to Christ. In Alexandria, Egypt, 21 people were killed as they were leaving church when a bomb exploded on New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, our brother in Christ, Dr. Said Musa (see Nov. 30 post), awaits execution in Afghanistan for loving Jesus.
“Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned to them and said, If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Luke 14:25-26; Mark 8:34).
As we read these words, do we think our every-day problems are the cross we must bear? Is that what Jesus' followers thought He meant? No. To them, the cross was no figure of speech. In Jesus’ time, to ‘take up your cross’ meant you were condemned to die the painful, degrading death, called crucifixion—a penalty reserved by the Romans for the worst criminals. Christ’s early followers knew their conversion could cost their lives. Certainly, Muslim converts know this. When they picked up their cross, they knew the price they might have to pay. Perhaps it is a good time to ask ourselves how much we have bought into the “easy-to-believe-just-say-a-prayer” evangelism that promises everything and costs nothing.