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.
“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.
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.
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