This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled Extreme Devotion, compiled by the Voice Of the Martyrs.  In the following passage, the account of believers in Sudan provides us with fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

"Chant this song [a Muslim creed], or you will die," cried the Northern Sudanese soldier.  The captive Christian could see the hate in his eyes and wondered how many lives he had taken.  The soldier pressed a large knife to the Christian's throat.

Logic told him, "Sing! God knows you are under coercion.  Why give up your life for not saying a few words you don't believe anyway?"

On the other hand, he knew the Bible taught that a person's words have power.  He recalled that one's confession of Christ is powerful.  "Would a blasphemous confession be powerful, too?" he wondered.  "Even if I didn't mean it?"  The questions seemed to battle against each other in his mind. His logic fought against his love for Christ.

Christians in Sudan often face such choices, and they have seen many of their friends and family members killed for believing in Christ.  The martyrs chose not to chant a Muslim creed, not wanting to pollute their spirits with blasphemous songs and risk breaking God's heart.

Their defense against the logical arguments is that the Christ living within them could not sing such a song:  Therefore, they had to face the consequences.  This same Christ living in them who would not chant along also did not fear a death threat.  These believers considered themselves already dead in Christ--the Christ in them could not really be harmed.

FURTHER:  Each day we tune in to the cross-talk between logic and faith.  Logic tells us to go along.  Faith tells us to go against the grain of popularity.  When we listen to logic, we may put our own convictions aside in order to do another person's bidding.  How often do we sing another's song to avoid confrontation?  It may be a job that requires deceptive practices.  Logic tells you to keep your mouth shut to keep your job.  If you sense that you may have listened a bit too long to the voice of reason, ask God to help you tune in to Him instead.  Ask Him for the faith you need to wisely speak the right thing at the wrong logical moment.

A moment of consideration In this writing, the words of the old question posed in text by Charles Sheldon still confront us through the lives of our Sudanese brothers and sisters.  What would Jesus do, if He were in our situation, our trial, our challenge, or our own persecution by others?   In God's Word, we are called to consider Christ's response to His own persecution (Hebrews 12:3; 1 Peter 2:21-22, and others).  As He dealt with His suffering, we might respond with ours.  In the decisions of these Sudanese believers, the question arose as to whether the Christ living within them could or would sing a blasphemous song or repeat blasphemous words?  They affirmed, "No!"  Hence, these people of faith decided they could not do so either; they had to face the consequences.  May our defense against the logical arguments, creeds or beliefs be that Christ within us could not and would not do so.  Ergo, we also cannot and will not do so.

In our own lives, we might correctly ask ourselves how often we agree with someone else ("sing his/her song") to avoid confrontation.  The world would have us believe we need to go along to get along with others.  The world would say we not only must accept others' viewpoints or attitudes, but we are obligated to support them in those stances.  Unfortunately, these others need not take into account or support our own Christian viewpoints or attitudes.  With our family of faith in Sudan, will we also choose not to chant a Humanist creed, Hindu mantra, a Communist dogma, a Muslim weltanschauung, or credo--knowing that the Christ within us would not do so?  In His day, Christ Jesus warned His followers not to be gullible, not be taken in, not to acquiesce, and not make themselves prey for the Pharisees and their spiteful and sinful ways. (Matthew 16:6,11-12)

In the reasoning of the Sudanese faithful, it would seem that logic is a tool of Satan, when it contrasts and opposes Christ.  In this respect, acceding to temptations is equivalent to "singing another's song".  Christ told His disciples to "watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation" (to listen to another's song, and sing along). (Mark 14:38)  In Matthew 4:1-11, Christ was tempted to listen to and give into Satan's words.  But Jesus each time responded with "It is written..." (Matthew 4:4-10)   May we be as the Bereans of Acts 17:10-11 were--nobly basing our decisions on God's Word.  In this regard, it behooves us to learn, remember and know God's Word, so that we might choose wisely.

The Sudanese Christians "considered themselves already dead in Christ" even as the apostle Paul declared to the church in Galatia (Galatians 2:20).  These believers Have overcome Satan "because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they have not loved their lives even to death". (Revelation 12:10-11)  We abide in Christ, and are dead to a life in sin.  No longer slaves to sin, we are to permit God to mold us into the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49)  Consider what could be accomplished for God's kingdom, if we also considered ourselves already dead in Christ--were we to consider ourselves crucified with Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us? (Galatians 2:20)  It was in this sense that Charles Sheldon wrote his book, In His Steps.  His tenet was that each thing we do, think or say should be accomplished as Christ would do so.  With the apostle Paul, may we also "not consider our lives of any account" (Acts 20:24) so that we too may complete our job, our Christ-given role.

It was the firm belief of the Sudanese believers, that Christ in them could not really be harmed by persecutory acts.  Christ suffered and died on this earthly plane, once for all, overcoming the hurt and pain of this world. (John 1:5; 16:33; Romans 6:10)  In our lives, too, Christ lives victoriously; as we abide in Him, we also may live victoriously--though we may have tribulations, woes, pains, and hurts in the meantime.  In our trials, we look for ways to secure victory in Christ and through Him.  The old hymn says that there is victory in Jesus:

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

Not only did Christ win the victory when our lives came through repentance, humility, salvation from Christ and redemption through His death and resurrection, but throughout our Christian lives, in each trial, Christ offers us the chance for victory through Him; additionally, we must choose to be faithful to Him, and follow Him and love Him--to abide in Him as He abides in us. (John 15:4,5,7,9,10; Philippians 4:13)  Apart from Him (separated from Him), as Christians we can do nothing. (John 15:5)  Our Sudanese brothers and sisters found strength in the Lord; the apostle Paul noted in his letter to the church in Corinth that Christ said to him:  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power in made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, Paul wrote, "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Use the tools God has given us for the battle. (Ephesians 6:10-18)  Be strong in Him and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10;1 Corinthians 16:13)  Stand for the Truth we know, and may His words dwell richly in us.  In and through our lives, what will Jesus do?