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May 12, 2009

Never Deny

“I will kiss the rope but never deny my faith!” exclaimed Tahir Iqbal. The soldiers lifted the paralytic pastor out of his wheelchair and slipped the noose around his neck. Today he walks freely in heaven with Christ.

In Pakistan, another seasoned pastor heard a gunshot right outside his house. The bullet narrowly missed him and lodged into the wall behind his chair. He thanked God for another day that he could share Christ in the Muslim-dominated nation.

Raymond Lully left a comfortable position as an Oxford professor and spent most of his life suffering for the gospel. He wrote, “Once I was fairly rich and tasted freely the pleasures of this life. But all these things I gladly resigned that I might spread the knowledge of truth. I have been in prisons; I have been scourged . . . now, though old and poor, I do not despair; I am ready, if it be God’s will, to persevere unto death.”

Believers like these have a unique understanding of the term “shield of faith.” They realized it would not necessarily prevent their suffering, but it gave them courage to face it if necessary. The shield of faith gave them the resolve to continue doing spiritual battle for the cause of Christ no matter what it cost them here on earth.

First-century battle gear included a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. With one, the soldiers could advance against their enemy. With the other, they went on the offensive. Concerning our own spiritual battle gear today, would we find a dusty “shield of faith” stored away in a corner? When we come out from under the protection God offers us through the shield of faith, we become vulnerable to our enemy’s attacks. Without faith, it is impossible to avoid fear and discouragement. We stop advancing the gospel at the first sign of opposition. What has kept you from advancing the gospel in your sphere of influence? Where do you need to brandish your shield of faith amid daunting opposition?