Is Jesus Worth It?
We are so spoiled here in the west. We bemoan our struggles and hardships. We complain about waking up on Sundays to go to church or taking time out of our busy weeks to go to Wednesday night Bible Study. We rail about the restriction of religious freedom coming down the pike. But we do not know what it is like to have our family members tortured for believing in Jesus. We do not know what it is like to live every day with a fear in the back of our minds that today we might be “found out” by the authorities. It might be uncomfortable for us to talk about Jesus to a coworker or a friend, but our very lives and families are never on the line.
We are spoiled.
This week our young adult group when to see the film “The Insanity of God.” It is in a documentary format where missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken tell their story, as well as the stories of persecuted Christians around the world. Nik had the unique opportunity to interview underground believers in some of the most oppressive countries, asking them about their experiences—and the ultimate question:
Is Jesus worth it?
Not to give too much away, “The Insanity of God” is not the type of film you go to enjoy yourself. Much like Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ, accounts of believers being persecuted, beaten, starved, killed, their families being killed--are never watched for the entertainment factor. It might make viewers squeamish. It definitely makes us all uncomfortable. But it is true, and it gives us in the West a good dose of perspective about something we know absolutely nothing about. Persecution.
And we absolutely need to hear their stories. Our brothers and sisters’ example in the midst of suffering is necessary for us living in the safety of the west to follow. As Nik Ripken says in one point during the movie: “There is no such thing as the persecuted church and the free church. There is only the church.” Those who are in Christ Jesus are united in the same Holy Spirit, saved by the same blood of our Savior. The bond we have as the universal church is deeper than any political, ideological, or ethnic bond we may enjoy. Followers of Jesus belong to the same body, the body of Christ, and we have much to learn from their stories.
We need to hear about how the Chinese version of seminary is prison (how many degrees do you want?). We need to hear about the eight year old son who tells his emaciated father he is “proud” of him for not renouncing the name of Jesus through a year of imprisonment and starvation. We need to hear about the father who tells his family that their resolution for the gospel in the face of death would make him happiest father in the world.
A part that particularly struck me was when one believer said that he had to decide every day whether he would identify with his persecutors or with the church. He went on to say that when he does not proclaim the message of the gospel—he is identifying with his persecutors because he is hindering the message of the gospel.
To me, this “extremism” is so foreign to the sanitized environment I enjoy. It makes me feel a little guilty and it forces me to look inward. Now I do not enjoy “looking inward” or feeling conviction, but perhaps we all need to feel a little guilt and a little prodding. Perhaps we could use a kick in the rear. If I take an honest look at myself, I am dissatisfied by my frequent failures to vocalize my faith or share Jesus with those around me. “The Insanity of God” revealed to me a little more of how unbelievably comfortable I am here in the West; and how that needs to change.
But above all this movie unanimously answered the question that: “Yes, Jesus is worth it.” Jesus is worth any and every cost we can give. Why? Because He paid the ultimate cost on the cross, that we might know Him.
“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow.”