There’s an old joke where mum’s downstairs getting breakfast on a Sunday morning when she hears her son calling from his upstairs bedroom.

”Mum!”

“Yes son?”

“I don’t want to go to church today, I want to stay in bed.”

“But you’ve got to go,” she answers.

“But I don’t feel well.”

She’d heard that one before, “There’s nothing wrong with you, now get up!”

“But if it’s something contagious then everyone will get it.”

She’d heard that one as well.  “If that’s the case, you’ll be in good company.”

“Oh mum.  Give me one good reason why I should go this morning.”

“You are the vicar!”

 

How many times have we thought we’d rather stay in bed (especially on a cold winter’s morning) or go out exploring God’s wonderful countryside and everything He’s given us instead of thanking him for his gifts in church for just that hour or so a week.  I know I have.  

 

But while sitting in the relative comfort of our own church, do we ever think about those who can’t go to a place of worship, not because of health or work reasons but factors beyond their control.  According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights and an international interfaith conference has revealed that 105,000 Christians are being killed every year.  Another survey by David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) give an much higher number and estimate that approximately 176,000 Christians were martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009 solely because of their faith.  Going by just the lower figure, during our normal church service around 12 Christians will have lost their lives for their belief.

 

I wonder if I have that strength, the strength that should my belief cause me to face death would, I expose it to the world or even to my neighbours?  Jesus died to save us but how many of us would be prepared to follow him knowing that we also could so easily lose our lives in an untimely death.

 

I make no apologies for reproducing the following prayer by Brother Bernard.

 

Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.
Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.
 

O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me go.
Let me understand myself, but don’t let me despair.
Come unto me, O Lord…I want you there.
Lighten my darkness…but don’t dazzle me.
Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.
O Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

 

– Bernard, SSF

 

 

Roger Stapenhill

A Faith to Die For

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