We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
On Epiphany, it may be appropriate for us to be reminded that there are rulers who, like Herod, don't want their people to see the Savior. Last month, it was reported that police in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong arrested 270 Protestant pastors for doing something illegal.
Those pastors were studying the Bible.
That's right, they were studying the Bible when police stormed the meeting, blindfolded, handcuffed, and took the pastors to a local police station for questioning. Some of those Christians were later released after they paid about $40 as an "interrogation tax."
According to an official document by the Communist party given to the West in November, a nationwide program is going on to "normalize" underground Protestant churches.
Sad, isn't it?
It's sad that a big, strong government -- a government that rules the largest population in the history of the world -- is afraid of Jesus.
Think about it. What harm can Jesus do? He lived 2,000 years ago. Two thousand years ago, He was betrayed by a friend, condemned by His government, and crucified. Certainly, a dead Jesus cannot cause the Chinese rulers any difficulty. Why not leave Christians alone?
On the other hand, if Jesus is alive (and He is), if He had the power to rise from the dead as Scripture maintains, if Jesus can forgive sins and change the eternal destiny of individuals, the Chinese government would do well to treat the Savior and His followers with a little more respect.
As St. Paul said, Christians can be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down but, by Jesus' power, they won't be forsaken or destroyed. The Herods of this world would do well to take note.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, even as I give thanks that I live in a place where studying the Bible is not forbidden, I pray for my brothers and sisters who are persecuted around the world. Keep them faithful to the Way and, if it be possible, let their governments refrain from future persecution. In Your Name, I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries