“The Communists convened a congress of all Christian bodies in our Parliament building. There were four thousand priests, pastors, and ministers of all denominations—and these men of God chose Joseph Stalin as honorary president of this congress. At the same time he was president of the World Movement of the Godless and a mass murderer of Christians. One after another bishops and pastors arose and declared that communism and Christianity are fundamentally the same and could coexist. One minister after another said words of praise toward communism and assured the new government of the loyalty of the Church.
“My wife and I were present at this congress. Sabina told me, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.’ I said to her, ‘If I do so, you lose your husband.’ She replied, ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’”
- Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ
Occasionally, one reads something that deeply impacts one’s perspective on life. This true story did that for me.
Seth and I were in the process of deciding if he should accept a position as the Director of Training and Outreach with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. Married just two months, he joined CBR on two Genocide Awareness Projects out of state, leaving me at home for several days at a time. The separation felt like more than my newlywed self could bear. In addition to the loneliness I felt, I also feared for his safety. I knew that the message that GAP presents is controversial, and that people who see it often react in anger. While I knew that God hates the killing of his innocent ones—the unborn—and that Seth’s talents and passion made him a perfect fit for this work, I was hesitant. Could I bear frequent separations and loneliness? Could I withstand the threat of harm to my husband? Could I handle the disapproval of many friends over such a “radical” approach to ending abortion?
Before reading this story, I was uncertain.
But then, one September morning while Seth was in Minnesota participating in GAP, I read of Sabina Wurmbrand’s courage. I was awed by her commitment to Christ, which superseded her love for her husband and her own wellbeing. If the idea of what other people might think even crossed her mind, she did not give voice to it. Obviously, Sabina treasured God above all else, and with that perspective, she was far more horrified by the idea of her husband bringing shame to His holy name than she was of losing her husband forever.
While Sabina’s response was a godly one, it should not have surprised me so much. After all, is this not the attitude that every Christian should have? Should not every wife value Christ above her husband? Should not every mother be more devoted to Him than to her children? Should not every business man desire to serve God more than he desires to serve his boss or customers?
This radical devotion to Christ really ought not seem so radical to us. It shouldn’t be so shocking, so rare. We ought to see it in every believer with whom we come into contact. Yet sadly, we do not.
I want that kind of devotion, I thought.
I confessed to God my misplaced devotion that day. I had been more committed to my own happiness, my husband’s safety, and our reputation than I had been to Him. I purposed then to maintain the same perspective that Sabina Wurmbrand had: That serving God is worth the cost, no matter how high.
It is easy to commit to this, of course, when we are not being tested in it. Not many of us are faced with the choice to allow evil to continue or lose the ones we love most. But each of us, if we are truly committed to following Christ, will have to sacrifice on some level. There is no getting around it. Whether we sacrifice friendships, a job, our reputation, or our wealth, we must all be willing to count it all as loss for the sake of Christ.
This is what it means to follow Him.
Are you willing?