Os Guinness gives a sobering call to faithfulness in Impossible People. After describing the persecution followers of Christ are suffering in the world today (“false charges, assaults, mutilation, rape, religious cleansing, murder, bomb blasts, beheadings and even crucifixions, all because they will not renounce the name of Jesus”), he says:
And what of us in the West? Are we showing that we too are prepared to follow Jesus and his authority at any cost? When an imperceptible bow would have saved Daniel’s three friends, they defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s idolatry at the threat of being burned alive. When simply closing a window and drawing his curtains could have saved Daniel himself, he chose to risk the lions rather than mute his allegiance to God. When a mere whiff of incense would have saved their lives, early Christians refused to acknowledge Caesar as lord rather than Jesus and were made human torches or the evening meal for wild animals. When it seemed quixotic to take on the emperor, the empress and all the empire, Athanasius took his stand for truth contra mundum (against the world) and was exiled five times for his faithfulness. When he was told he was arrogant or out of his mind to follow his conscience and defy the consensus of tradition, Martin Luther stood firm in the face of the fiery stake that had cremated Jan Hus before him. When his closest friends urged him to save himself for the important work of his future scholarship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to reenter Hitler’s lair and ignore the looming specter of the gallows….
[M]any Western Christians are caving in weakly before the challenges of our own times, such as the general seductions and distortions of modernity, the particular temptations of the sexual revolution or a failure to appreciate the implacable hostility of the forces against us—and so blunting our witness and denying the lordship of Jesus and the authority of the Scriptures. It is time, and past time, to turn this situation around and take a stand worthy of our Lord—before the cock crows and we are left with the bitter regret that our brothers and sisters around the world stood firm and paid with their lives, but our generation in the West betrayed our Lord in such a pitiful way.
If Jesus is worth a painful death, is He not worth an uncomfortable life? A demotion at work? A loss of social standing? We’re all going to need to figure out how to seek our life and joy primarily in Jesus—through prayer, Bible reading, and church fellowship—so that the loss of anything else, whether it be job, friends, family, or possessions, will seem a small thing by comparison. Take a few minutes to think about a specific habit you can create, starting today, in order to intentionally pursue this.