This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled Extreme Devotion, compiled by the Voice Of the Martyrs. In the following passage, a small Cambodian church congregation provide us with fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ...if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded. (Philippians 2:1-2)
None of the members of the small congregation moved. An officer walked up to the pastor, grabbed the Bible he had been reading and threw it on the floor. "We'll let you go," he said, "but first you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot."
Another soldier grabbed a man by the arm and forced him forward. "Father, please forgive me," he prayed as he knelt where the Bible had fallen and spat lightly on it.
"Okay, you can go." Then the officer pointed to a woman. She too knelt by the Bible. She moistened the Bible just enough to please the officers.
A teenage girl suddenly stood up and walked towards the Bible. Tearfully, she knelt and picked up the Bible, taking the hem of her dress and wiping it clean. "What have they done to your Word?" she asked. "Please forgive them." The soldier lowered his revolver to the back of her head and squeezed the trigger.
The Christians who were initially allowed to leave were also shot. Their actions did little to save them.
A moment of consideration: As we were growing up, how many of us roundly sang, "Oh, the B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the Book for me; I stand alone on the Word of God; oh, the B-I-B-L-E!" Contrary to the experience or lives of others who (if they own a Bible) leave the Word of God sitting on the shelf, the song said that we believe in the message contained in the Holy Scriptures, know the One revealed in its pages, and know the significance of the redemption and salvation it alone offers through Christ Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Whew, what a mouthful! Having grown up with that profession, we have learned that "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6) We have the further testimony of the Psalmist, who wrote,
"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight to life. Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them." (Psalm 19:6-11, NLT)
The words of that small tune, "The B-I-B-L-E", are significant. They include the confidence of the teenage Cambodian girl, above, as the lyrics say "I stand alone on the Word of God." Could that mean, we only rely on God's Word to guide us, inspire us, correct us, lead us closer to a knowledge of God, and more? No novel? No How-To book? No user manual? No Rules for Radicals, by Saul Alinsky? No Gardener's (or other-interest) Bible? No scout's handbook? The Apostle Paul wrote to his protege, Timothy, saying, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT) Could the B-I-B-L-E song imply that we have decided to follow Jesus--no turning back, even though none go with me? I go alone? Again, the teenage girl's example corroborates the message. We so often allow the world to dictate our lives, our interests, our pastimes, our interactions. God's Word--our Handbook for Living--doesn't contribute to our decision-making. It is no wonder, if the world doesn't see us Christians as different in any significant way from the non-believers around us.
In the actions of the Cambodian lass, we see the same adoration of Christ as in the woman who "...knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them." (Luke 7:38) Attributing Christ Jesus, the living Word of God, with infinite value in her life the Cambodian girl wept, and asked, more poignantly than she knew, "What have they [the Christians] done to your Word?" In both cases, the ones doing the weeping were kneeling at the feet of God's Word (John 1:1; John 1:14). In the young Cambodian girl's death, she received on that day, the Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10).
The question needs to be asked: looking within ourselves, is there a love of this life that could deny Christ? How dire of a situation would be required, to lead us to spit on the Word of God? Somehow at least several Cambodian Christians wrestled with the faithfulness asked of us by Christ Jesus--and failed. They chose poorly. They spat on the Bible. God's Word speaks of Christian believers who were victorious when tried: "And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die." (Revelation 12:11; NLT) Our young Cambodian sister in the faith was just such a person.
Fear is not of God (2 Timothy 1:7; Luke 12:4-5). What we hope might be the outcome of saving our own lives (perhaps while asking for God's forgiveness), in choosing the easier way, is often denied to us (Matthew 10:39). Mention should be made, of how the world treats compromise from believers; (Merriam Webster Dictionary reveals synonyms of “compromise” as: endanger, hazard, imperil, jeopardize, jeopardy, menace, peril, risk.). The world doesn't respect those Christians who give in to its demands. Such Christians are useful to non-believers to promote the world's agenda. In the case of these Cambodian believers who did publicly shun the Word of God--to save their own lives--they ended up losing their lives without the assurance of being a good and faithful servant. They were shot anyway. Their denial of the Lord didn't save them. (Matthew 10:33)
In our lives on this earth, we are asked to be faithful to Christ Jesus, to love Him with all our being, to glorify Him in all our actions, thoughts, feelings, and speech, and to persevere in the faith we have chosen--in the One Who chose us. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. (2 Timothy 2:12) If we persevere as Christ Jesus has commanded us, we too shall receive a crown. (Revelation 3:8-13) May Christ Jesus become more precious with each day, in our lives. With the young Cambodian girl, may we help make Christ's joy complete by being like-minded with her. May we reflect His radiance and nature to all we meet. May we persevere in the faith, glorifying Him in our living and when our time on earth is done, in our dying--faithful to the end! And when all is revealed, may it be truly said of each of us, that we loved Christ far more than life itself. (Philippians 1:21; Acts 20:24)