Monday, December 15, 2014

No Secret Agents for God

For 11 years I worked as Assistant to Georgi Vins. He was a Russian evangelist who spent 8 years in Russian prisons and labor camps before being exiled to America in a dramatic 1979 exchange.  (The U.S. swapped 2 captured Soviet spies for 5 well-known prisoners in the Soviet gulag--4 human rights activists and Vins, a Christian preacher.)

During those years of laboring alongside Georgi Vins, I often interpreted for him at church services and Christian conferences. He was always a popular speaker, who spoke out about the then-persecuted church in the USSR. During Q & A sessions with him, there was never a shortage of hands. I well recall how one man, after learning details of the persecution, asked, "Isn't there a way for believers to live peaceful lives and avoid the oppression and harassment?"

After the slightest pause, Georgi Vins replied, "If a Christian stayed home instead of going to church; if he didn't pray openly; if he didn't let others know about his faith in Christ; then yes, he could probably avoid persecution. But that's not the Christian life."

Mr. Vins died in 1998, but over the years, that answer has often resurfaced in my thoughts. In western nations, the ridicule and harassment Christians sometimes experience may not be as hard-hitting as it was in the USSR, yet certain forces sometimes try to suppress our outward expressions of faith. They  attempt to quash our Bible-based convictions. Some believers might be tempted to decide, "Enough already. I'll still be a Christian, but just a silent one." In other words, to avoid mockery or making waves, they try to be "secret agents" of faith. But that's not the Christian life.

Jesus was crucified. His apostles endured arrests, chains, prisons, sentences of death. How did they respond? They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's name. In Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul expresses gladness that other Christians were emboldened by his example: "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (v. 14).

If you're ever tempted to go undercover with your faith, tempted to dim the source of light in your life so as to not "offend" someone, my encouragement to you is this: Don't. Jesus Himself says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). A dark, burned-out light bulb may still be a light bulb, but it's useless. Don't be a secret agent of the faith. Let your light shine!

7 comments:

  1. Great post. I am one who finds it difficult to be as bold as I'd like. But I always pray that God open the right door or open my heart to someone in need to hear it and the it seems to flow more easily.

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    1. I think most of us would like an extra dose of boldness. But the darker the night, the more vital the light. Keep shining in whatever ways and whatever places the Lord gives you!

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  2. I loved this post. I used to be so bold about Jesus. I've been praying I will be again.

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  3. Ps you should add a tweet this button so I can, maybe you do on the computer version and I'm on mobile,

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    1. Terri, thank you for sharing your comment. We're all growing together, aren't we? And thanks for the suggestion. I love constructive suggestions! There actually are links to share my posts by email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ at the very bottom of each post. But those links are small. I'll see if I can get those enlarged. Blessings!

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  4. Great post. Thanks Rick for the reminder as we head into a season of family gatherings which include "mixed" (Christ-followers and non-Christ followers) company. May love cover all that is said and done in the effort to be bold.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Yes, good addition that love should be our motivation. No one appreciates a belligerent spokesperson who has no love.

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