I was talking with a Dong friend of mine about a small Dong church and the hardships they had been going through. I was saying that every county was different: some places are lax and some are aggressively against the gospel. I mentioned to my friend that those believers had been pressured to sign documents denying their faith and received threats of what would happen if they did not (they did not, by the way).
My Dong friend replied, "Well, there is no harm in saying you do not believe, if that will get you out of trouble." I was taken so much by surprise, I did not quite know how to reply.
I had to think a bit. It is so assumed that denying him is bad, that I had to really thinking through the issue. Why is denying Christ a problem? I immediately thought of Peter and his denial. And when I talked with my friend about that, he did not seem to see the point.
Then, in Acts 5, we see the apostles stand up to the strong re-statement of the Jewish council to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. As a clear show of how serious the warning was, the apostles were beaten before they were released. It says, "they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" (Acts 5:41 ESV).
During the last supper, Jesus said that there is no greater love than a man who gives his life for his friend. And also, we are to love as he loved, and by this all men will know we are his disciples. He gave his life for us, and he likewise calls us to an extreme love for each other. And if we do this, the world will know who we are and will see Christ in us.
Denying him is not only to deny the sacrifice he gave for us, but it is also to hide the testimony of Christ that the world should see. And now that I think through his response, I understand how this friend's church back in the village has not grown in faith or believers for so many years. There is no testimony. There is no sacrificial love. Christ is denied.
Please pray for these believers. It is easy for us to deny him in little ways, especially when it does not seem like a big deal and can get us out of trouble. Please pray that they will see the wonderful example of the changed lives of the apostles who ran before Christ's death and stood up to persecution afterwards. Pray that the Lord will change these Dong brothers' and sisters' hearts.