Several years ago an Afghanistan man, Abud Rahman was arrested for the “crime” of converting to Christianity from Islam. As a result, Raham faced the possibility of the death penalty.
Following outrage by the world community, the citizens of the United States and the plea of then President Bush George W. Bush, the Afghan officials decided to drop the charges of apostasy and release the man. Their decision was based on two reasons.
First, they said there were suspicions that he was mentally ill. Second, they claimed there was a lack of evidence. In March of 2006, Abud Raham was granted asylum in Italy and able to escape those who sought to kill him
When I came across this true story, it raised an age-old question, one that has almost become a cliché. “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
In one of the great verses of the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, the apostle Paul speaks of three great virtues in their lives that demonstrated evidence for their Christianity.
The apostle begins in verse 2 with his expression of thankfulness for the Thessalonian brethren, as he prays for them. Then he writes, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1) As Christians our faith should produce works.
This verse speaks of two qualities that are often seen as opposites–faith and works. The question is often asked, “Are we saved by faith or works?”
The answer? Yes!
The Bible teaches that without faith no one can be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). In fact, the great faith chapter of Hebrews 11 cites numerous examples of men and women who were people of faith. Yet, they have something in common. They demonstrated their faith by their works.
And the list goes on. And on.
Faith is effectual. Faith is active. Faith works.
Yet, let us remember that our good works must not be done for work’s sake alone. This verse reminds that works must be produced by faith. Our good deeds are founded on faith in God. In His Word. And in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Is there evidence of a working faith in your life?
(2) As Christians our labor must be prompted by love.
Love is the great commandment. Jesus said that both our relationship to God and our fellow-man should be based on love (Matt. 22:37-40).
Love is the reason why God sent Jesus into the world to die for our sins (Jn 3:16). His divine love was the great moving force that caused God to extend His grace and mercy toward us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:1-10). Likewise, our labor for the Lord ought to be motivated by our love for Him.
It is often said, “actions speak louder than words.” While true, our words of love are reflected in our actions and attitudes. In Gary Smalley’s book, The Five Love Languages, he speaks of improving our marriage relationships by understanding your mate’s “love language.” One of those is “acts of service.” We show our love by what we do.
Ancient Israel was commanded to love God and “to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12). Divine love and spiritual service go to together.
Is there evidence that your labor is motivated by love?
(3) As Christians our endurance must be inspired by hope.
The Bible often exhorts us to “be steadfast.” It is easy to become “weary in well-doing.” To “lose heart.” To “become lukewarm.” To allow ourselves to become “shortsighted, even unto blindness.” And to “forget that we were cleansed from our old sins.”
Hope encourages us to keep on going. Hope empowers us to say “no” to sinful pleasures. Hope enables us to bear any burden, face any challenge, suffer any infirmity, endure any slight, and overcome all obstacles.
Is there evidence that you’re steadfastly holding on to your hope?
Is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?
–Ken Weliever, ThePreacherman