A Chinese man known as Li Yuese said that he was arrested by his government because he is a Christian. While detained he spent 10 months in a windowless room being beaten and mentally tortured. He said he was constantly threatened, insulted and intimidated because of his involvement in the illegal Chinese (underground) house-church movement. In our countries, far away from China, we do not encounter such brutal persecution. Looking over our shoulders to see if we are being ‘watched’ in our religious activity is not necessary. Could I stand up to the kind of persecution that Li Yuese went through without denying my Lord? I pray so, but I could not be sure.
The apostle Peter was sure. When Jesus prophesied his threefold denial, he said emphatically: “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same (Mt.26:35).
Peter’s failure to endure under pressure stands as a warning to all to this day.It is easy to judge the state of another’s faith when all is going smoothly in your life. Paul also warns of the possible perils of judging your brother: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1Cor.10:12).The arrest and trial of Jesus were too much for Peter. The testing of his convictions came as all his ‘Kingdom’ dreams were being dashed on the rocks of hopelessness. Why believe in a Messiah on the way to crucifixion? Why do anything that may cost me my life too? When the rooster crowed for the final time and Jesus looked at Peter, his defences came crashing down; ‘And he went out and wept bitterly’ (Lk.22:62). The resurrected Christ didn’t leave Peter in his misery. He restored Peter to his place of leadership (Jn.21), and Peter went on to do great works of service in the Kingdom of Christ—the church.Be warned: We can only pray and prepare for the day of testing. And if it hasn’t come yet, it will. So be strong!