Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The preacher was only making his first point when the prison guards burst into the room, grabbing him and slamming everyone else on the floor.
“You know this preaching is forbidden,” one of them growled. “Now you will face the punishment.” The husky guards dragged him out of the cell and down the hall. The other prisoners knew that the Eastern European Communist guards were taking their friend to the “beating room.” They heard the door of that terrible room slam and then the muffled shouts and cries as the guards ruthlessly beat their friend.
Almost an hour had passed before the guards threw open the cell door and shoved in the man who had been preaching. The other prisoners saw that his clothes were now bloody and his face bore the marks of the beatings. He looked around at his cell mates almost as if taking attendance.
“Now, my brothers,” he said, “Where did I leave off when we were so rudely interrupted?” And the sermon continued. Christians in prison knew the price they would pay to deliver a sermon, and yet many preached. Some, with no theological training or ministry experience, would preach passionately and eloquently in prison.
“It was a deal,” wrote one prisoner later. “We preached, and they beat. We were happy preaching, and they were happy beating – so everyone was happy.”
In a world where a contract is no longer binding, a family is dissoluble, and divorces outnumber marriages, Christians must reinstate the meaning of commitment – at all costs. What is the value of a promise if it does not mean anything? However, the consequences of our commitment to Christ are not cheap. It may cost us a chance at being very successful according to the world’s standards. It may cost us friends and popularity. It may cost us our family. Our security. And for some, even our lives. Commitment must have a price. The prisoners understood that full well. Yet Christ’s reward is also part of the bargain. Are you holding up your end of the deal?
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