When I read about the first church and those who fled Jerusalem under persecution for the gospel (Acts 8:1-3) and the martyrs who died with the name of Jesus on their lips, and I think about the Christians in the east who are still tortured and killed for their faith in Christ, I am ashamed. Oswald Chambers rightly said, “Beware of the danger of spiritual relaxation.” Beware of the Lazy-Boy faith of the Western church today. The true Christian life is not safe.
If every day as a Christian is an easy-breezy-peazy day, then we are in trouble. Following Jesus is not intended to be some blissful nirvana. It’s a climb, a race, a battle, a challenge. It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day, prayer-by-prayer trek over desert sand and rocky mountains and treacherous trails through hostile territory. That’s the life the Apostles experienced. That’s the life the martyrs endured. Their faith was tried and tested in the fires, and it came forth as gold. The Christians with the strongest, deepest faith are the ones who defy opposition, persecution, threats, and even death for the name of Jesus. The most dangerous state for a Christian is when all is right in their little world.
After grapes are crushed to extract the juice it is placed in containers and allowed to ferment. During fermentation, the dregs, or sediment, settle at the bottom of the container. After forty days the wine is “shaken up” – poured into another container to allow the dregs to be removed. If the dregs remain, the wine becomes too sweet and thick and it is spoiled. The Lord spoke of Israel’s enemy, “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another. So she tastes as she did and her aroma is unchanged” (Jer. 48:11). Moab had been largely at peace, and their turmoil-free life had made them spoiled. The Lord said the same of Jerusalem, “I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs . . . (Zephaniah 1:12)”
Beloved, has your life – and your faith – been shaken lately? Mine has. James says, “Count it all Joy . . .” (James 1:2). God is sifting out the dregs, the dangerously sweet stuff that spoils you. He is making your life an offering worthy of Christ. Is it hard? You bet. Is it painful? Without a doubt. Is it worth it? Just ask the saints who endured. They’re the ones singing songs of Joy and praise around the throne.