January 25, 2006

A Doubting Christian

1503 page31 caphat are you willing to die for??

This question was asked in a commentary I read recently by Charles Graham, executive director of a Georgia-based ministry called Christ Is Lord of All. Referring to the possible justification for some wars, Graham went on to add, ?If we are not willing to die in an effort to stop the execution of innocent people, to end the digging of mass graves filled with the children of foreign lands, to battle against recognized evil in the world, will we ever be willing to die for Christ? It?s a serious question in these dangerous times.?1

This article is not the platform to discuss the ?rightness? or ?wrongness? of war, but Graham?s commentary reminds me of the many stories that frequently appear on my desk depicting the serious plight of Christians in various regions throughout the world. Not a few of our own church members struggle daily with decisions of conscience and faith that have repercussions extending from the loss of employment or a reduction of standing in society to emotional and physical abuse--and even death.

In addition to stirring deep sympathy and eliciting my prayers, these events give me much food for thought. I not only attempt to determine what, if anything, I can do to help make a difference; I also often ask myself, What would I do in that situation? How would I react under those circumstances? Although many Christians living in Western societies have made sacrifices for their faith, few of us have been asked to risk our lives or the lives of family members and friends. How we would react in life-threatening situations is very difficult--if not impossible--to know. But as I ponder these questions, my musings take me back to when I first met Jesus.

1503 page31My experience was not dramatic. When I was about 12 years old, my mother joined the Adventist Church through watching the It Is Written television program and attending a subsequent series of evangelistic meetings. The resulting lifestyle changes in our home were not welcomed by the rest of the family, but they definitely had a gradual effect on us, including me. Through a series of providential experiences, I eventually came to know a God who loved me personally, Someone who cared for and protected me even before I knew Him--and I couldn?t turn my back on a God like that.

I was baptized before I turned 18, and my life changed direction. I lost many of my friends and could no longer participate in my usual pastime activities, but I can?t say that I experienced ridicule or actually suffered from the decision I made. So, do I ?have what it takes? to make a real sacrifice for the Lord, if asked to do so? I can?t help having doubts. But then I remember something Corrie ten Boom wrote.

Ten Boom, who was placed in a concentration camp for hiding Jews during World War II, tells the story of her own doubts about her ability to be faithful to God under extreme circumstances: ?When I was a little girl,? she wrote, ?I went to my father and said, ?Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus.? ?Tell me,?? answered her father, ??when you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?? ?No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.? ?That is right,? ? her father said, ? ?and so it is with God?s strength. Our Father in heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need--just in time.??2

We shouldn?t worry about decisions we might make in possible future scenarios. Our concern needs to be, ?Am I making the right decisions today? Is my desire to be spending time with Jesus and growing more like Him? Am I living a life worthy of the name ?Christian???

If we can answer ?Yes,? then we can safely place our doubts--and our future--in the hands of Jesus.

1 www.ciloa.org/Notes/2005-11-14.htm.
2 www.fulfilledprophecy.com/corrie_ten_boom.html.

Sandra Blackmer is news editor of the Adventist Review.