Today, we begin a short series of monthly highlights from January through May to raise our awareness as a congregation of the church around the world that is undergoing suffering and persecution, and to understand how we can respond. Persecution of Christians as well as Christian communities and congregations is defined as any hostility experienced because of identifying with and believing in Jesus Christ. Why is this important for us to know? When Jesus established His church through His Spirit at Pentecost, any and every person in any city or community around the world, from any race and background, who puts their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, becomes part of His church, His family. Therefore, being part of Colesville United Methodist Church in Silver Spring means that we are sisters and brothers together with other believers around the world. We are one church and one family. Ephesians 4:4 -6 teaches us that there is one body and one Spirit, and that we were called to one hope; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. We are united as Christians because of His Holy Spirit, and we are encouraged to make “every effort” to maintain and strengthen this unity:
- “one faith” because we all have received new life – born anew and eternal life — receiving salvation that Jesus alone offers (Ephesians 1:13)
- “one hope” because we have all become adopted children of God when we believed, and look forward to the same inheritance, that is eternal life
- “one Spirit” because the same Spirit identifies as belonging to God, and we experience the same transformative power in our lives.
- “one body” because we have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, and so have become part of the same body of Christ
- “one baptism” because we have made the same public declaration of allegiance to Christ, symbolizing dying with Christ, and being raised to new life (see Romans 6:1-4) and our sins have been forgiven (or washed away) (see Ephesians 1:7).
- “one Lord” because we have heard the good news, and trusted in the same Lord who established and is building His church.
The church around the world are our sisters and brothers, and many of them are experiencing various types and levels of suffering. Every third Sunday, we will highlight one community or country in the world so we can know what they are experiencing, and how we can respond as their brothers and sisters.
January Highlight – The country of Nigeria
March Highlight – The country of Indonesia