The author of the letter to the Hebrews made a highly unusual statement to his readers “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourself are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3 (NKJV)
VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand was himself chained and brutally tortured over a period of fourteen years by communists as a result of his faithfulness to Christ, three of those years being spent in solitary confinement. He was acutely aware however that in the ultimate sense, he was not at all solitary and instead shared a supernatural union with thousands of believers everywhere; so intimate was the union, he later made this profound comment about his experiences.
“When I was beaten on the bottom of the feet, my tongue cried. Why did my tongue cry? It was not beaten. It cried because the tongue and feet are both part of the same body. And you free Christians are part of the same Body of Christ that is now beaten in prisons in restricted nations, that even now gives martyrs for Christ. Can you not feel our pain?”
Our union with persecuted brothers and sisters, sharing the same body in Christ, is almost incomprehensible and can, at times, seem to have little relevance in the daily lives of Western Christians. A humorous illustration can help illustrate this: imagine you asked your spouse “Do you love me?” and they replied “Of course I do! I love your left ear, your right ankle, your beautiful wrist…yes I love all those things but that is all.” You would respond “You’re crazy, you don’t love me at all!” So it is with you and me when we say we love Jesus – the head – but do not love as equally and passionately his suffering followers – His body. To love Jesus at all is to love His whole body.
It is for this very reason that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he did not reduce them to one but two “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” Mark 12:29-31 (NKJV).
This month’s challenge: Considering that we should love the entirety of Jesus’ body, will you pray and ask God to give you a heart to love your suffering brothers and sisters as much as Christ himself? A practical way to facilitate this love is to go to icommittopray and pray over the latest news regarding Christian persecution, which is updated regularly.