As I celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, the words of Jesus ring in my head and heart when He said: “Whosoever will, may come!”
I confess the joy and sorrow that these words bring as I type this ‘Thought for the Week.’
The amazing joy of redemption so that a guy like me can be counted in the ‘whosoever will’. But I am broken thinking of the many that will not accept being part of the ‘whosoever will’.
I read as well in the news of the slaughter in Kenya of 148 Christian college students and I weep for these young lives lost to these who claim ‘the religion of peace’. These people could perhaps have gone on their way had they denied their faith in Christ and their Christian religion. Yet they didn’t, they lived out their faith to the end.
Now be careful before you jump to the wrong conclusion of where I am going with this thought. Keep in mind, it is no longer the Passion Week but rather this is Resurrection Week. The crucified Saviour is alive. He is not in the grave but ALIVE! Dolly Parton sings a song called “He is Alive” of which the ending goes like this: “He’s alive, He’s alive, Hallelujah, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven, Heaven’s gates are open wide, He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive, I believe it He’s alive. Sweet Jesus” (if you have YouTube go find it, just reading it doesn’t do it justice.)
My heart aches for these lives lost, but then I remember He’s alive. Hebrews, chapter 11, describes those that are killed for their faith in Christ as those ‘of whom the world is not worthy.’ From the very early days of Christianity people died for this faith. But here is good news; Even those who kill Christians can come to a place of faith as a Christ follower. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 shares what Paul said of himself: “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
To the thief on the cross, Jesus said: “Today you will be with me…”
Paul said as well: “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
Which brings me back to Hebrews 11:1 : “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Those that were killed last week now know the reality of the substance of their faith. So I pray that these do not die in vain, that through their deaths others see that Christian faith is real, that Christianity is the real ‘religion of peace’.
These that died in faith are in the presence of God their saviour. Those that killed them think they get a trip to paradise and virgins for their efforts, sadly without Christ they get nothing. I pray that they, like Paul, will find their way to the place of forgiveness at the foot of the cross of Jesus and know the real Prince of Peace - Jesus.
So much more I could add, so will simply end with; Shalom.
Rev. Jon Bergen
Brechin Baptist Fellowship