Imagine living in a society where you cannot talk about your relationship with God and Jesus. Millions of people are in this position today--in countries that officially do not allow free practice of faith, officially recognize only a different religious tradition, and discriminate against other believers. We are fortunate here in America. Many of our immigrant ancestors over several centuries came here because of religiously intolerant home countries; even state or majority Christian traditions that did not tolerate differing practices or interpretations. Some are strict Muslim societies in which other "people of the book" are allowed to exist, but only on conditions that include that they not build new churches, repair old churches, or talk about their faith outside of their own community. Most of the old Communist countries closed churches, tried to suppress worship; even today, in China, although an amazing number of Christians were found there when the pressure eased after the most radical Maoists were out of power, worship is either underground or under the critical eyes of bureaucrats.
First, of course, we need to pray for all of God's followers, wherever they are, but especially for the ones that live in places hostile to them. Their challenge is to live their lives in such a way that God is recognized and honored without causing unnecessarily violent reactions. Of course there are times when confrontation is unavoidable; pray that those in such situations will have the guidance and strength to do the right thing. Through the history of the Church there are have been many times that Christ-followers faced hard choices; Jesus warned that saving your life at the cost of your soul was a bad bargain.
We are blessed to live in a society that does not often face us with that difficult choice, but it has happened. In general, we are free to say what we believe, and sometimes we are called to do so. We, however, find it too easy to overdo the talk. Could we live in such a way that without saying anything, our choices, our behavior, our attitudes, our values will speak for us, both when it is easy and when it would be easier to "stay under the radar?"
Note: The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is Sunday, November 10.