‘I will in no way be ashamed.’ Philippians 1:20 NIV
Over half of all Christians now live in the Third World, often in anti-Christian environments. More Chinese take part in Sunday worship than the entirety of Western Europeans. Lebanon is 40 percent Christian; Sudan, 5 percent; Egypt, about 10 percent. Many of these saints worship at their own risk. Consider their plight. If you were one of them, you may be the only Christian in your Iraqi university, or an Arab woman who offers prayers in silence, or a secret believer in an underground church. Or perhaps you’re in a society of religious freedom, but a community of spiritual oppression. Family members mock your beliefs. University professors belittle your convictions. Classmates snigger at your choices. Colleagues pressure you to compromise your integrity. Co-workers make it their mission to snag you in a weak moment. If that’s where you find yourself, stand up for Jesus! Paul wrote these words from his prison cell: ‘I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ (Philippians 1:19–21 NIV) The hymnist wrote: ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory, His armies shall He lead. Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.’ Today, stand up for Jesus!