7/15/21 (by Mitch Ross)
I just received another email informing me that the church has been broken into AGAIN! This makes 3, 4, 5, 6 times in a month! I’ve lost count.
As elders and staff we have had a lot of conversations about what we need to do about this pattern. We’ve called the police, put up more cameras, put in better locks, reinforced the windows… what else can we do?
Our sense of justice cries out “why would someone try to rob a church? Don’t they know that if they need something all they need to do is ask? Don’t they see that we feed all who come?” I’m reminded of the words in Hebrews 10:34 to the early Christians: “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”
There is a lot happening in that one sentence, so let me break it down.
The early church was enduring persecution from all sides, with many of their members thrown into prison. It is thought that the prisons mentioned here did not meet the daily needs of the prisoners. Meaning if your loved one was in prison and you wanted them to eat, you had to bring them food or they would go hungry. So, while the believers were taking food to their fellow Christians who had been imprisoned, their property was seized, plundered, stolen, destroyed or looted.
What is our first reaction to this type of injustice? Is it accepted joyfully like we read in Hebrews? Like the apostles in Acts 5, do we “rejoice that they (we) had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name?”
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t rejoice when you experience injustice. So what made the early Christians able to rejoice? The answer is found in Hebrews 10:36-37: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promise. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.”
Jesus. The answer to why they could rejoice at their property being plundered is Jesus. We can rejoice at injustice because of Jesus and his promises. We can joyfully accept that we are ministering in a part of Charlotte that breaks our windows to steal nothing of value on a regular basis, because of Jesus.
Missionaries, you have a better, abiding, possession for eternity. You have a hope in Jesus, who has come, and will come again. He is preparing a place for you. This week, whatever happens to you, rejoice because you have Jesus!