Summary: This sermon confronts the fact that although Christians are alive through Christ, they are still endangered to the prince of this world.
Alive, But Still In Danger
A sermon presented by Rev. Tommy L. Davis, Pastor, New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, Motts, Alabama
Text: John 12:9-11
9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
Subject: Alive, But Still in Danger
As we shift our focus toward Easter, the most sacred celebration of Christianity, I want us to begin focus on the meaning of Easter in each of our personal lives. I want us to be able to think about why God cared so much about us that He let Jesus die the brutal death of crucifixion on the old rugged and wooden cross. I want us to really understand what Jesus’ death means for us today in the twenty first century. What does it mean to be saved in a society that is corrupt and immoral? What does it mean to be a Christian in a world where atheism, the belief that there is no god, and hedonism, the belief in self-gratification and pleasure seeking, are openly practiced in mainstream America? And I want us to explore and come to some realization that just because Jesus died for us, just because we’ve been saved by grace, it does not mean that we won’t have to face any more trouble in this life. During this Easter season my brothers and sisters, I want us to commit to establishing or reestablishing the relationship with Jesus Christ that the Easter season is really all about.
When I look around the United States and at our world at large, it is easy for me to see and realize that Christians are in danger. In India, Christians are being hunted down by Hindus and viciously murdered. According to the Farsi Christian Network News, Christians in Iraq are arrested and persecuted for attending home churches, evangelizing, storing Bibles, and even for converting to the Christian faith. In Pakistan, Christians have reportedly been attacked by Muslim mobs and arrested for blasphemy against Islam. In Turkey, a Turkish Bible Society bookstore was vandalized twice in one week by Muslim extremist. In Eritrea, a country in northeast Africa, three Christians were reportedly killed in prison as a result of torture and complications from maltreatment of physical illnesses. In China, age is not a factor. A 79 year old woman was beaten along with her son, Pastor Hua Huiqi, because of their Christian faith. They were then both imprisoned where she was tortured and forced to drink her own urine. This is the kind of persecution that Christians are facing right now in 2009 according to The Voice of the Martyrs, a world-wide publication that tracks and reports on Christian persecution. Christians are in danger.
Persecution of Christians in America is also on the rise. We have almost grown accustomed to random acts of church burnings being executed here in the south. The National Coalition for Burned Churches reported that between 2000 and 2006, more than 600 churches were burned. This statistic hits close to home. Last year, Bethelpore Baptist Church, just down the street and down County Road 179 in Bleecker, was burned to the ground by two men who were charged with arson and burglary. More recently, two African American churches within the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church were burned by unknown arsonists just outside of Opelika in Chambers County. But this attack on the church buildings, the places of worship of Christians is just the tip of the iceberg.
Church shootings are now on the rise. In 2007 there were eight church shootings. 2008, however, logged 18 church shootings, more than double the previous year. This year, a pastor was killed when a gunman walked into the church and opened fire. The gunman then stabbed two members of the congregation and himself in the aftermath as he was subdued and taken into custody. This type of scenario was not only uncommon 20 years ago, but it was nearly unheard of. It was the exception and not the norm. But here we are in 2009, and I stopped by to let you know that Christians are in danger.
This current endangerment of Christians is not a new occurrence. Christians have been persecuted ever since they were recognized as Christians at the establishment of the church. History reveals that Nero, the fifth and final Roman Emperor during the first century, and other leaders throughout history, made it their business to persecute Christians just because of their faith. It was these early Christians who established the kind of mettle that Christians must have if they are to survive in a hostile world.