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On being a Christian in the 21st century . . .
Sierra Vista Herald ^ | Herald/Review

Posted on 07/26/2014 9:55:24 AM PDT by SandRat

With the last Christian being driven out of Mosul, Afghanistan, by the vengeful ISIS sect this week, and innumerable other incidents of discrimination against Christians in Africa, Asia and even the Americas plaguing the planet, one wonders if being a Christian is worthwhile?

Wouldn’t it be better to be nothing than to be tracked down and slaughtered as has happened to Christians recently in Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, India and Pakistan?

The answer is a decided, NO!

While respect for Christianity has diminished in large measure due to pedofile clergy, immoral televangelists and other scoundrels occupying some prominent pulpits, the Gospel is still needed for this century and all the others following it. It has declined because families find other pleasures more attractive than teaching their children Christian values. TV and movie comedians may mock us, atheists may seek to dull our witness by banning crosses and creches, and novelists may fling every indescribable insult in our direction they wish, but Christianity is God’s empowered force for good — therefore cannot be so casually dismissed as inconsequential.

The Jews have suffered for their faith for centuries, yet their strength remains in those who remained faithful to it despite pogroms and the Holocaust … often at the hands of Christians regrettably.

Where would institutions of mercy … hospitals, children’s homes, homes for the aging and many similar caring facilities have originated … if it had not been for the Church centuries ago? Schools, from kindergartens to universities, were made available to the poor as well as the rich under the sponsorship of the Church. Many agencies that provide assistance to the disadvantaged got their start led by Christian men and women who originated such ministries. And the Jews, too, have provided similar care for their people and others, while often cooperating with Christians and financially supporting their institutions to alleviate human suffering.

Many of America’s refugees came to these shores due to the ministry of Christians and Jews. After World War II, the United States gained an exceptional benefit from those fleeing what was left in battle-worn Europe. After Vietnam’s war, the same thing happened. So, yes, it is still a worthy goal to be a follower of Jesus no matter what naysayers tell us.

But then being a modern day disciple of the Lord Christ is not simply for assisting others in their dilemmas. That’s a prime target in the attempt to love others. There is, however, a very important personal element that comes first. There needs to be a living relationship with God, a common walk with Him in order to love one another and to sense the love that is returned. Besides, our earthly life is not the end of the journey. It is merely the prelude. Eternity is worthy of our devotion and faith now. It’s not “pie in the sky bye and bye,” but a promise made by Him to those who believe. Here and now we take the first steps to accepting the life without end.

On Aug. 4, some people will observe the 102nd birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swede renowned for his rescue of up to 120,000 Hungarian Jews from the Final Solution being promulgated by Adolf Eichmann. Raoul was a Christian. He went to Budapest in the last months of World War II to rescue as many Jews remaining in the last corner of European Judaism. He served the Swedish king as a special ambassador, and was financed generously by President Franklin D. Roosevelt … two Christian leaders who cared enough to send the very best to facilitate the rescue.

Wallenberg died at the hands of the Russians in one of Moscow’s notorious prisons, but before that he fooled the Nazis by inventing, printing and distributing false passports identifying the Jewish recipients as being under the protection of King Gustav V of neutral Sweden.

His girlfriend: while Raoul studied architecture at the University of Michigan, Berniece Ringman, was a friend of mine, who toured Scandinavia and Russia with me during one of my Christian heritage tours. While in Stockholm, she met with Raoul’s sister. In Moscow, she visited with the American ambassador about getting Raoul released from the Gulag where he was thought to be imprisoned. It was not known until later that he had died in Moscow near the war’s end.

At any rate, Wallenberg put his life on the line for people he didn’t know. He knew, however, they were children created by God. His obligation was to God, as well as to his king, to save as many as he could. He provided safe houses for them who lived under his patronage, even a hospital, and collected very scarce provisions to feed them in a very difficult time. Why? Because he believed it was not just his duty, but his privilege.

He was an ambassador for Christ. He did not preach. It was not his intention to convert, but it was his prerogative to serve his Lord by saving lives.

There were many Christians who lived out their faith in the face of Nazism’s threats. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi, a businessman, were among them. They stood up against the Nazis for their inhumanity toward Jews and others, and lost their lives by order of Hitler just a week or two before the war’s end. A new book, “No Ordinary Men,” was recently published by the New York Review of Books to underscore their mission.

Brian Fleming tells the story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irishman serving in the Vatican during World War II. The priest found hiding places for numerous Jews, escaped inmates from Italian prisoner of war camps, Italian communists on the run and other locals who were in danger.

Why? It was the monsignor’s Christian obligation. And that love for others is demonstrated over and over again in the book as well as the TV movie “The Scarlet and the Black,” starring Gregory Peck as O’Flaherty, John Gielgud as Pope Pius XII, and Christopher Plummer as the Gestapo chief. His faith, and that of his colleagues, was alive and active, not hidden and ignored.

In an age of indifference to Christianity, when attendance is often down in parishes across Europe and North America, it is easy to buy into the idea that religion is irrelevant or unnecessary.

But as air is essential to breathing, so faith is mandatory to make a difference, to reject tyranny and confront cold callousness head-on.

On June 24, Marine Corporal William Kyle Carpenter received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in behalf of his besieged platoon in Afghanistan. However, it was not the glory of the medal that inspired his heroism. A Christian, he wore Psalm 144:1 tattooed on his body which says, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” It’s the Lord who enabled him to leap on a live grenade to protect his buddies, but also to overcome his injuries and begin a successful civilian life.

The Triune God is not just available on Saturdays or Sundays, but every day and every minute. The corporal knew that. He did other heroic things that day for his fellow Marines, and now the world sees why. His faith enabled him to do unplanned acts of courage.

That, in itself, is reason enough to live out your Christian faith or Jewish beliefs in constant contact with God rather than a sporadic wait-for-the-tragic events to happen kind of existence.

When Joshua assembled the tribes of Israel together at Shechem, he recognized a decision needed to be made. He said to the hordes of Israelites arrayed before him, “Now … revere the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God, who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight.” (Joshua 24:14-16)

And so Joshua confronts us today. But you have to know the Lord your God before you can see His goodness and fully appreciate what He has done for you and given you, so that you can achieve great things for Him.

TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture

1 posted on 07/26/2014 9:55:24 AM PDT by SandRat
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To: SandRat
With the last Christian being driven out of Mosul, Afghanistan,

Mosul is in Iraq, not Afghanistan.

2 posted on 07/26/2014 10:43:40 AM PDT by aimhigh (1 John 3:23)
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To: aimhigh

That is what the paper reported, not me.

3 posted on 07/26/2014 10:56:45 AM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SandRat

The more the Christian faith is attacked, the more it GROWS and SPREADS.

4 posted on 07/26/2014 12:24:26 PM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Biggirl

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

5 posted on 07/26/2014 4:27:00 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Therefore, my beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." - Philippians 2:12)
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