(He spent 14 years in communist prisons being tortured for Christ)
“In Mark 5, Jesus orders demons to leave a possessed man and enter into a herd of swine. After the demons enter the swine, they run straight into the sea and drown. The owners of the swine, the Gadarenes, thus lost their means of feeding themselves and their children. How would we react if the entrance of Jesus into our lives meant the loss of our house, car, bank account or job? The Gadarenes reacted by asking Jesus to leave the area.”
Just seeing pictures of this man Richard make me want to weep. Reading his writings is like hearing of a foreign Christianity, one that you only hear about in books. The sacrifice that the underground Church makes when they chose to follow Christ is costly, costing Richard 18 deep torture wounds, years of horrific suffering, separation from his wife and son, and the pain of witnessing his brothers and sisters in Christ be martyred for their faith. This is not something known to the west.
Nevertheless, what Scripture tells us is true for all generations and all walks of life; those who truly follow Christ will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said to count the cost before we chose to follow Him. Are we willing to follow Him at any price? Will we follow Him at the price of our worldly pleasures, at the lost of friends, at the price of being mocked by others? Are we willing to suffer ridicule for His name, or is our profession of faith shallow? Are you willing to stand for righteousness even if everyone else gets angry and calls you a fool (Mark 8:38, Matthew 5:11, 12)? We might have never been faced with physical harm yet for our faith, but it is coming. Will we go to prison for the sake of the gospel? Are we willing to suffer loss because we serve the Great Master of all, Jesus Christ?
Know that there are believers all around the world this very hour that would die for their faith in Jesus; they have lost limbs, family members, parents, and children because they turned to Christ. They love Him and worship Him with all that they are. They live in caves and mud huts, they worship in forests and secret places because if they are caught they could go to prison for decades. There are tens of thousands around the world who are in chains, all because they refuse to deny the One who gave His life for them. To them Christianity is serious, serious as life and death. When they chose to follow Him, trust me, it is at a cost.
But this high price has produced the most beautiful believers in the world. Because of their living sacrifice, their lives become passionate, fruitful, a sweet fragrance to all around. The power of their testimony becomes more than just words, but a tangible evidence of their love for God. In the face of death they sing, because they know that they will soon be in the presence of their sweet Savior.
So what do we do here, that we may be as committed as they? It starts by counting the cost. Why did we come to Jesus, was it to enhance our self centered lives? If so you should just stop now, since you will fall away as soon as it gets difficult. But let us do as Jesus commanded, let us count the cost (Luke 14:26- 33). The cost is death to you, allowing Jesus to live in you (Galatians 2:20). Before you profess to follow Jesus, and certainly before you tell others you are a Christian, consider if you would follow Him at the cost of your family, job, health, money, agenda and happiness? If anything would turn you away from Him, you cannot be His disciple.
Even though this sounds too hard to handle for our American ears, it is the only real Christianity, and it is the only gospel that will give you true life. Many wonder why they are so unhappy as “Christians”, so unfulfilled; why the answer is quite simple, it is because they have not fully surrendered to Christ. But when we die, then we shall life, and that life is abundant. Richard Wurmbrand said he has only see truly joyful Christians in prison and in the underground Church.
LORD, please help us as a Church to learn what it really means to follow You. We need you so very much. Break us and teach us, mold us and shape us into the people You want us to be. Please Father do WHATEVER it takes to produce a beautiful bride for Your Son, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Love Jonathan Ball