October 2017 marked 500 years since the start of the Reformation movement of the church. These reformers were willing to give up their lives so we may have access to the Word of God and experience the freedom of the grace of God.
However, Christians continue to be persecuted and condemned for having a Bible. More Christians are killed today than in the early days of Christianity; the cross is ever present in Christian life and part of their walk of faith.
In Australia, we are so blessed waking up each day with the freedom to read our Bible and attend our church services. We can speak and write freely about our God and His Word to our families, our friends, even to total strangers. Religious persecution is most likely not something most of us have personally experienced. Sadly, this is not the case in many parts of the world, as Christian persecution is on the rise.
The denial of access to the Bible is one of the most commonly used tactics to persecute Christians.
For followers of Christ, the Bible is a source of comfort, peace and assurance of His love. However, for His followers in many countries, the Bible is illegal and having one can mean imprisonment, even death. Under this dark cloud, many Christians living under unimaginable oppression continue to risk everything just to have access to a portion of the Bible.
What is it about the Bible so many find threatening? Never has there been a book which attracts such hate and vile intent towards it.
When Christians open the pages of the Bible, they read about God’s love and how, through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, He has encircled the world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air we breathe. It speaks of loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek. It provides courage to stand for the oppressed and comfort in times of need.
And still these Christian persecutors fear the Bible, unabated in their anger with no mercy shown towards anyone who owns one.
Despite this inherent risk and danger even at a cost of their lives, believers know God’s Word is true. They long for a Bible of their own, a precious piece of God’s promise in their hands.