And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
– Jesus (Luke 9:23-26)
Here in Europe (and in America), we tend to spiritualize things like “taking up your cross” and “losing your life” to follow Jesus. We very rarely think about the cost of discipleship in the same way the early disciples would have thought about it and in the same way Christians in many Muslim lands now think about it.
This fact hit home when our friend Abdul (*name changed) showed us the pair of jeans he had been wearing when he was attacked a few days ago. They were covered in his own blood, a clear (and very non-spiritual) reminder of the true cost of following Jesus.
When Jesus said to take up your cross, he didn’t mean a necklace, he meant an electric chair. When he said to lose your life for his sake, he meant it.
Abdul was born into a Muslim family, but a few months ago, he started to seek God and read the Bible. He was hungry for truth but really struggled over the “Jesus is God” thing. He kept searching, praying, and looking for truth.
Just a couple weeks ago, he finally surrendered, and everything changed. He found new life… and new enemies.
His former friends (all Muslims) have turned against him, calling him a traitor to Islam for reading the Bible and choosing to follow Jesus. At first the attacks were only verbal, but things have intensified over the last two weeks. The last time he was attacked, they sent him to the hospital.
Pray for our friend Abdul. We’ve found him a safe place to live for now, but he’s experiencing persecution on a level most of us only read about and never think to experience for ourselves.
Most of all, praise God for how this persecution has thus far only served to make Abdul more determined than ever to continue in his pursuit of God.