Mark 13:10 “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
There is a seemingly minor turn of phrase that is presented in the Japanese but is missing in the NIV: “In this way.” Christians in “advanced” countries don’t like to recognize that persecution is a means of advancing the Gospel. However, from the earliest days of the Church this has been a powerful driving force. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” has been true from the 1st Century. Americans are getting perhaps their first taste of this, with “tolerance” being insisted on for every religion except Christianity, but it is still extremely mild. In Muslim countries, Jesus’ words about a father handing his children over to death isn’t even unusual! I don’t think believers are to seek martyrdom, but neither are they to run from it. Our goal should be that Christ be glorified, whether by our lives or by our deaths. Actually Paul said exactly that about himself. (Philippians 1:20) “Seeking first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) can have ramifications beyond what we like to think about! The call to discipleship isn’t a call to take it easy. When we balk at sharing the Gospel because we’re afraid someone might be offended, we have lost sight of what the Gospel is all about!
I don’t have any high moral ground to stand on here, because I have drawn back from sharing Christ more times than I care to think about. On top of that, I am a model to many, and they aren’t likely to progress further than I lead them. I am not to be needlessly offensive, but I must never let fear of man keep me from obedience to God. In particular, I must not let the desire to be liked by people keep me from confronting them with the claims of Christ. Heaven and hell are very real places. I need to love God and love people enough to do all I can to take people with me to God, whatever I go through in the process.
Father, once again I am faced with my own weakness and foolishness. Thank You for the assurance that You are indeed working in me to will and to do Your good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) May I cooperate fully with that, being increasingly available and useful to You, so that many may be brought from death to life, and then on to full maturity, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!