February 6, 2014
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:1-3
This devotion is being written shortly before the beginning of the Winter Olympic Games in Russia.
As of this moment, some Olympians who were eligible to go have bowed out, and others have told their families not to attend. They know that worrying about the safety of their families would be distracting to them and detrimental to their performance.
Those Olympians are not the only ones who are worrying.
The security forces of Russia have been put on overtime and high alert and the president of the United States has volunteered to share personnel and technology, which could throw a monkey wrench into terrorists' plans.
It is right that the world be concerned for people's safety. The Olympics, which were created as a forum for harmony and peace, as well as excellence, should be respected.
On my desk, sitting right next to these stories about the worries over Olympic security, I have some reports which have come out of Sri Lanka. One of them tells how, when Christians met for worship at Hiddaduwa under the watchful eye of police who did nothing, 250 Buddhists -- led by their monks -- broke down the congregation's doors, smashed pews, destroyed musical instruments, shattered the windows, set fire to Bibles and hymnals, and sent the congregation running for their lives.
In 2013 Sri Lankan Christians were attacked more than 65 times.
You should know that Sri Lanka is hardly at the top of the list of countries where believers are persecuted. There are nations -- that's entire nations -- where a Christian literally takes his life into his hands if he wishes to worship the Savior. Beheadings and de-limbings are almost commonplace in these countries.
Sadly, the world doesn't seem much concerned about the violence being directed against those who have been called to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Their stories of persecution don't often make the news; they don't generate intense phone conversations between the world's leaders, and they don't seem to summon support or sympathy from the Hollywood elite, who are always speaking against violence, bloodshed and hatred when it is directed against other groups.
When Jesus was among us He warned that the world, which so delighted in persecuting Him, would also derive intense satisfaction in doing the same to His followers. This is why, today's devotion echoes the words of Paul who urged, "Remember those who are in prison, as though (you were) in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body."
Today, let us join in heartfelt prayer that the Holy Spirit may protect these brothers and sisters ... may protect their bodies as well their souls.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, look with favor and deliverance upon those who suffer for their Lord who died for them. Keep them safe, and if that is not possible, let their sufferings point the lost to the Lord Jesus who lived, died and rose, so they might have salvation. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries