Sunday, November 27, 2011

Treasure in the trash

Today my church invited a guest speaker to speak for the culmination of a sermon series entitled Dear Church - a series that attempted to look at today's church, and more specifically our church, with a transparent and critical eye. Needless to say, I am sure some of the sermons made some members of my church uncomfortable, and made most of us feel convicted for either our apathy or judgmental attitudes, or our unwillingness to truly welcome and love the marginalized and outcasts of our society.

As November is Prayer for the Persecuted Church month, our pastor decided to bring in a man who has been persecuted for his faith right here in Brantford. I don't think I have ever cried so much in one service. Today's speaker was a man who  had been a mormon for 43 years of his life... and not only that, but he was a mormon leader, on a number of mormon committees etc, and his whole family was mormon. He was brought up believing that the Bible couldn't be trusted, and had no desire for anything related to Christianity.
What he did want however, was to be a more zealous Mormon, and as such he began to dig through document upon document so that he could see for himself the truth of the Mormon faith and its claims. However, as he began to seek the truth, he began to see that there were many things that just weren't adding up. And as he continued to dig, he began to feel a weight on his heart and mind to pursue Christianity. It was a feeling that he couldn't shake, he felt like he was being hounded by God. And all during this time he was still a Mormon leader etc. But as these doubts continued to pile up, and as God continued to convict him of his need for Jesus and the christian faith, he decided to approach his faith leader. After three hours of this man telling his leader everything he had discovered, all of his doubts and convictions, he asked, "Is there any room in this church for a man like me that just wants to love Jesus without all of the extras?" and his faith leader said one word: "no." That was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity, but it was by no means an easy decision. It was a decision wrought in tears and suffering.

This man's church leaders wrote him a letter that officially constituted a "gag order." If he followed this order, he would not be excommunicated. He was forbidden to speak of Christianity at the church, in the community, but also to his family. For three months God continued to weigh on his heart and mind, and there were two things that he was convicted of:

1) His sin and inadequecy

2) and that  Jesus offers forgiveness

These, among other things, led to this man committing his heart to Jesus and converting to Christianity. However, he truly had to count the cost. His church, his friends, and his community forsake him. He lost all his positions in the church, and was labelled a heretic. But the worst part, is that his own family could not accept him - his wife, his children.He lost everything.

But he lost everything for the sake of Christ, knowing fully what would happen if he made the decision to follow Him. This man broke down in tears many times while he was speaking - but still, even though he had lost everything, he knew that he gained the only thing that truly mattered. He knew that when you know the treasure that you have, it is worth everything.

I can't help but analyze my own life, and my own faith. Do I treasure Christ as much as this man does? What would I be willing to give up for Christ? What would I endure? Is Christ really the reason that I live?

At the end of his testimony, most of us had tears streaming down our faces, and we all raised our hands and prayed for this man and his family and friends. That God will bring salvation and restoration to this courageous man's family. I ask that you also pray for this man and his family, but also pray for all the persecuted Christians that endure so much for their faith. And maybe, look at your own life and ask yourself: Do I truly treasure Jesus? Or is my ' Treasure in the trash'?

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