His Likeness

We lived among them in a restricted country in Asia. We heard their stories. We secretly passed money and materials to those in the underground church. We prayed for them; they prayed for us. Their faith was greater than ours. If others found out we would just be sent home to a free country; they would be sent to a dark prison. This was life helping our brothers and sisters in Christ reach out with the story of Jesus in their country. And it still goes on today in many countries around the world.

Abiding in Jesus, as believers in Him, we have the joy of knowing His love. We have the peace of His friendship, “I have called you friends”. John 15:15. The fruit He produces in our lives begins to look like the life of Jesus. We begin to have the likeness of Him in what we say and do.

And as we begin to look more like Jesus, a problem arises. We become hated by the world. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18, 20

While teaching his disciples and followers, Jesus explained to them the cost of following Him. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” Matthew 5:11-12

Paul, who was put in prison and died for speaking and living for Jesus, also said these words, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12

Abiding in Jesus produces His likeness which in turn results in not fitting into society’s mold or what the world says we should look like. Instead of looking like the world, those who abide close to the Vine begin to “stick out”. Their lives look different. They are rejected, mistreated, cursed, discriminated against, tortured and even killed…just as their Lord was.

It was a blessing in my life to live among those who continued to share the good news about Jesus no matter the costs. They seldom complained, full of joy, they only asked for one thing – prayer. They asked us to pray for them to be faithful, to stay connected to Jesus, the Vine, and never fail Him in their witness of him. Their lives reflected His likeness. Am I such a likeness of Jesus that those who see Him in me reject me? I should expect what my Lord faced and pray for those who are facing that today. At this very moment, there are 30,000 brothers and sisters in Christ suffering torture in concentration camps in North Korea. Will I pray for them?

Check out Voice of the Martyrs at persecution.com to find out more how to pray for those being tortured and killed because of His likeness in their lives.



Trust the Vine

After saying our goodbyes, the train pulled out of the Amtrak station. Our recently graduated daughter was heading back to New York City. Watching the train leave, I was struck with how trust affects my daily life. I trusted that the engineer had inspected the engine and was safely driving it to New York. I trusted the baggage attendant to take care of our daughter’s luggage to get it to the right location. We put our trust in people and things every day. We depend on them.

So how do I know I can trust my life, my choices, and my plans to Jesus?

Jesus told His followers to trust in Him as the Vine and depend on Him. He said, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) They could not depend on themselves or anyone else. They could totally trust in Him and depend on His words. He told them they would have troubles in this world but that they could have peace as they trusted in Him. “…because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

His followers could trust in His love for them when He said, “…I have loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) They could trust in His provision. He would satisfy their deepest needs in this life.

They could trust in Him for direction in life. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) They would walk in light and not in darkness and confusion.

And He promised security and life, eternal life. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28). His followers are His forever; no one can take them away from His protection.

Jesus is trustworthy and capable of taking care of those of us who believe in Him and follow Him. He is reliable and dependable, providing for our needs, giving us peace, love, security, direction for life and eternal life forever– not letting us go. We can’t trust in this world and its leaders, but we can trust in the Vine. I will cling to the Vine, Jesus, and His promises. He can handle anything. And I will trust in Him.