In America, generally,Christians have not had to face the kind of risk and persecution that is common in other parts of the world. Here is a recent report from northern Nigeria, from the Persecution Blog (VOM)
“The militants attempted to force the pastors to convert to Islam, but they refused to abandon their faith. They were then beheaded by guards who shouted “Allah Akbar” and fired several gunshots into the air in celebration. ”
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, around the globe, and ask ourselves how we would handle the same situation.
John Piper preached on the passage from Luke that we read today:
You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death. (Luke 21:16)
Last week our subject was Risk and the Cause of God. Our main point was that it is right to risk for the cause of God.
It may not be right to risk much for the cause of personal prosperity or public prestige. And not every risk for the cause of God is necessarily right, either. Jesus refused to jump off the temple, and Paul snuck out of Damascus in a basket to escape the governor.
But even so, it is right to risk for the cause of God.
Risk for the Cause of God: Looking Back
When the battle of the Lord is at hand, it is right for someone to rise up with a strategy, put it into practice and then say with Joab: “May the Lord do what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 10:12).
When the good of God’s people is at stake, and one life could save many, it is right for someone to take the challenge and say with Esther, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
And when the world is without the gospel, and perhaps even hostile to it, it is right for someone to say with the apostle Paul, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
And we looked at one example of what happened once when the people of God refused to take a risk for the cause of God. Caleb and Joshua said the promised land of Canaan was beautiful and rich; it would take a battle but they could conquer it because God was with them. But the people preferred the mirage of Egyptian security. And so they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. And I have asked myself how many of us have been sentenced just to wander through life in boring circles because we refused to take a risk for the cause of God.
Risk for the Cause of God: Looking Forward
My subject today is the same as last week. Only instead of pointing you back to the risk-takers of the Bible, I want to point you forward to some possible risks that God may be calling you and me to take.
Our text is Luke 21:16.
You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
The key word here for my purpose this morning is the word “some.” “Some of you they will put to death.” What this word does is put the earthly life of the disciples in great uncertainty. Not all will die for the cause of Christ. But then not all will live either. Some will die. And some will live. This is what I mean by risk. It is the will of God that we be uncertain about how life on this earth will turn out for us. And therefore it is the will of the Lord that we take risks for the cause of God.