It’s Memorial Day… a day of remembering with appreciation those who have given their lives in service to our country, defending the liberties we hold dear. Here is one voice (of many) who pause today and ponder their sacrifice, and their families sacrifice, and who utters a heartfelt thanks for their memory and service.
As a Christian, however, I remember others also today… Devoted followers of Jesus Christ who have experienced suffering for Christ’s sake, persecution and martyrdom down through the centuries. Many followers of Jesus today are experiencing persecution worldwide! They are reviled and slandered! Many have been threatened and assaulted, even killed for the sake of Christ. How can we honor these faithful “Christian soldiers” this Memorial Day weekend?
I’d like to suggest at least 5 ways (all beginning with the letter “P”…
Prayer – These suffering, persecuted believers must know that we are praying for them! They are not forgotten! In the words of Samuel, an ancient leader of God’s people, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you!” (1 Samuel 10:23)
Preparation – I must be personally prepared to join them in suffering, if need be, “for righteousness’ sake” and the cause of Christ! (Matthew 5:10-12) Scripture declares, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Proclamation – The testimony and witness for Christ and the gospel is what has brought persecution down through the centuries and today. Suffering Christians who have been persecuted, in prison, and facing death, must know that others join them in a bold and fearless witness.
Provision – When suffering and persecution come for the cause of Christ and the Gospel, families suffer, spouses suffer, children suffer. Those who are suffering must know that the family of God “bears one another burdens!” We not only pray… we provide from our means to help one another!
Participation – Hebrews 13:3 urges followers of Christ, “Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the Body [of Christ].” “Empathy” is a good word here… we are called too “suffer along with” – to understand and feel what another person is experiencing from with their frame of reference, placing (as much as is possible) ourselves in their position.
So today, on this Memorial Day, I see the rows of stones in military cemeteries, and I reflect with deep appreciation for the sacrifice of all those who have died defending our freedoms! But I also remember the host of “Christian soldiers” down through the centuries who have suffered and given their lives for the cause of Christ! And I also remember those around the world who, today are suffering persecution as faithful, righteous, and loving followers of Christ! Many of them are making the ultimate sacrifice each day, month and year as Christian martyrs. Remembering!!!