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Do you remember a few months ago when our Sunday School teacher first started telling us about the Christians in other countries who follow Jesus and love Him, even though it is very hard? Today, she asked us a question—why do they keep loving Jesus when so many people try to make them stop?
Do you know the answer? I wasn’t sure at first, but when I came home from church and read my Bible, I asked God to help me understand, and He did. I found a verse that says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:18-19)*
Maybe that is the reason. The Christians who are suffering know that Jesus loved them enough to suffer for them when He lived on earth. He didn’t just give them a bunch of rules, He gave up Himself in order to make things right with God. He knew we could never keep all of God’s rules and live a perfect life. So He lived a perfect life for us and died to pay the price that was owed because of God’s judgment.
I think the Christians know, too, that He knows how they are feeling. He knows what it is like to be mistreated, because people mistreated Him. Look and see what I mean—
- Jesus knows what it feels like to be abandoned and left all alone. Just like Susan Ithungu, whose father locked her up by herself for six months, or Saaed Abedini, who was kept in a prison cell all by himself for a long time, Jesus understands. Part of the punishment that sin brings is that we are separated from God. God is too holy and righteous to allow sin in His presence. But He loves us so much that He didn’t want to live without us. So when Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, He took all of those sins onto Himself. When He did that, He couldn’t be with God anymore, and God turned away from Him. It broke Jesus’ heart, and “Jesus cried out in a loud voice…My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
- Like so many of the suffering Christians like the Adivasi Tribal Christians or the Ganda Christians in India, or Nguyen Thi Lan in Vietnam, Jesus was beaten and mistreated very badly. “…took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” (Matthew 27:30)
- He knew what it felt like to be hungry and thirsty and to not have anywhere to call home where He could rest, like Christians who lose their jobs and their homes because they love Jesus. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
- He knew what it was like to have friends or family turn their backs on Him and even betray Him. One of His closest friends, named Judas, turned Him in to the people who wanted to kill Him. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48)
They know if they meant so much to Jesus that He was willing to suffer all those terrible things in order to save them, then they need to be willing to suffer terrible things in order to help other people hear about His love for them.
“Dear God, thank You that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus to die for my sins. Please help me love other people enough to tell them about You, no matter how hard it is. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
*All Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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