This post will disturb your comfort zone. All of us have comfort zones that we take for granted, assume will always be there, etc. We tend to live our lives as if our comfort zones will never be disturbed. However, we have no guarantee that these comfort zones will last. Indeed, we have biblical promises that our comfort zones in the latter days will either come apart altogether or be severely strained—depending on where we live, God’s measure of grace, etc.
It is reported that 70,000 Christians in North Korea are “locked away in virtual concentration camps” because of their faith. North Korea is a repressive, bizarre nation where its leaders live in luxury while its citizens are subject to being starved to death due to lack of food. If starvation can happen to citizens of North Korea in “good standing,” what are the conditions for the Christians locked in these concentration camps? The article notes that a Christian believer and “three generations of his or her family can still go to prison for life just for owning a Bible (emphasis added).” As an American (or a citizen of many other nations in the civilized world), you have the right to own as many Bibles as you want. You can fill your library with multiple translations of the Bible, Bible Concordances, Dictionaries, Atlases and Commentaries of all kinds. You can go to church services, listen to Christian radio and TV broadcasts, etc., and take it all for granted as part of your “comfort zone.” You assume that you will always have these rights.
As Christians, we may not always have these rights. Jesus Christ warned of persecutions and martyrdoms against believers in the latter days (Matthew 24:9-10), Daniel prophesied that the saints would be “worn out” by the persecutions of a final “beast” leader in the latter days (Daniel 7:25), and the book of Revelation is full of apocalyptic prophecies about horrendous world events in the latter days that will befall people of all faiths. Christians need to realize that the Bible makes it clear that the “comfort zones” of many believers will break down in the latter days. Are you spiritually, mentally and emotionally ready for such a time? Christians at least have the hope and confidence of salvation and ultimate victory in Christ’s return. Hard days are ahead for the world, but like people who have read the last chapters of a book, biblical prophecy tells us ultimate victory is ours in Christ/Yahshua in the end of whatever comes in the future.
When Jesus/Yahshua was asked about the signs of the end of our age that would signal his Second Coming was nearing, his response fills chapters 24-25 of Matthew. Matthew 25:31-46 relates the parable of how Jesus will judge his believers when he returns. This parable of the “sheep and goats” gives us the criteria by which we will all be judged, so it is vital we take it seriously in how we live our lives in the future. The believers who are rewarded and enter the kingdom of God are ones who gave shelter and met the physical needs of other believers who needed help during the latter days. This parable presumes that many believers will be shaken out of their comfort zones and will be in need of such help in the latter days. Expect Jesus to arrange for you to be tested to see if you will help others then. However, notice the easily-overlooked criteria that Jesus gives in verses 40 and 45. He rewards those who helped, fed and sheltered others who were regarded as the least of these my brethren, and he excludes from the kingdom those who refused to help, shelter and feed those who were regarded by the goats as the least of Jesus’ brethren. In other words, you will not be rewarded or regarded by him as a “sheep” for helping only those who are part of your personal comfort zone (your church, your denomination, etc.). The Savior will be judging you on whether you helped, sheltered and fed those believers who were outside your denominational and organizational comfort zone (those who you regarded as “the least” of Christ’s brethren).
Who are “the least” of Christ’s brethren in your estimation? Christ’s definition of “his brethren” is almost certainly far broader than your current definition. I urge you to read my free research report, A New Look at the Seven Churches of Revelation. Revelation 2-3 give us Jesus Christ’s descriptions of “his brethren” in the latter day Christian faith. Jesus’ definition of “his brethren” is not limited by organizational or even doctrinal levels of understanding and knowledge. This prophecy describes modern Christendom as it is today: deeply divided over matters of doctrine, organization, socioeconomic conditions, etc. Some branches of “his brethren” will be in deep error and some will embrace heresies. However, Jesus still claims all of them as “his brethren” even though some groups are warned that they are close to being rejected by Christ altogether. Paradoxically, it is the groups that have the most biblical knowledge and the most material prosperity that are in the position of greatest spiritual danger in the latter days. Where will you find yourself in Jesus Christ’s descriptions of the diverse branches of his latter-day church? Interestingly, each of the seven latter-day church groups will have an innate tendency to regard each of the other six churches as “the least” of Christ’s brethren. In order for Jesus Christ to judge you in the future according to his criteria in Matthew 25’s parable of the sheep and goats, he must arrange for you to be tested to see if you will help, shelter and feed those who you regard as “the least” of his brethren. Please read my aforementioned article so you become broad-minded enough in your definition of who is Jesus’ brother or sister to be a “sheep,” not a “goat” in the latter days tests that lie ahead of you. Also addressing the subject of Matthew 24-25’s warnings to latter days believers is my article, Christ’s Five Warnings to Latter Day Believers. Christians need to know and act on the warnings that Jesus Christ gave to his followers who would be alive in the latter days.
Meanwhile, as you enjoy your comfort zones, remember those 70,000 Christians in concentration camps in North Korea who can receive life sentences just for owning a Bible. For them a “good day” may be one where they could find a few scraps of food, have meals that aren’t spoiled or filled with maggots or where they can get through the day without a beating. Receiving a letter from a family member might be among their wildest hopes for “a good day.” [Be thankful for what you have and enjoy now. Don’t take it for granted.] Revelation 2:8-11 would identify these North Korean believers as part of the “Smyrna” church in the latter days—a body of believers who live in poverty and tribulation. Poverty and tribulation aren’t necessarily geographically-determined. People can be in poverty or live in severe tribulation in their personal lives even in the rich nations. Those suffering believers in the North Korean concentration camps are your brothers and sisters. Hopefully, you can “visit” them in their imprisonment through prayers in their behalf that the government of North Korea would have mercy and release them from those camps.
Wherever you live in the world, never say that “it can’t happen here.” We certainly pray that such afflictions as the North Korean Christians experience do not happen here, but we can’t take anything for granted. Be ready to help believers who are outside your theological “comfort zone” in the future when they are in need. Matthew 25’s parable shows that Jesus Christ’s eyes will be especially focused on you when he watches what you do when you are presented with such opportunities (“tests”) in the future. Your actions at those future times will determine whether he writes you down as a “sheep” or a “goat.” Matthew 25:31-46’s parable gives us our Lord’s salvational “pass-fail” criteria re: what we do in future hard times. It behooves all of us to pay it heed.