Sacrifice and Persecution

Last night I finished The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken. It’s a gut-wrenching story about a man who searched for persecuted people living with Jesus, not just living for Jesus. His quest came at a moment in his life when his own faith was failing after the death of his teenage son on the mission field in Nairobi, Kenya. Ripken found such spiritual strength in the world’s darkest hell-holes where poverty and oppression restricted political and social freedoms. But the worst persecution couldn’t touch these believers’ spiritual freedom in Christ.

Ripken identifies the ultimate enemy of faith as lostness, not any religious, political or economic system. God wants lost people to be found, so the purpose of life is to share Jesus everywhere.

The Insanity of God joins Radical (by David Platt) and Kisses from Katie (by Katie Davis) to form a trilogy of books with a fresh focus on sacrifice and commitment to a global gospel. In a different way, each book presents an alternative to passive, consumer-Christianity. 

Jesus said it’s hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18:23). Ripken shows us why. He reverses Wall Street economics and puts true riches on the other side of the equation where they belong. True wealth is living with Jesus and sharing him with the world despite poverty and political persecution. His conclusion: “Jesus is worth it.”

It’s hard for me to say “Jesus is worth it” when I consider how little I’ve suffered. Most of my personal suffering has been self induced: guilt, anxiety and fear. How can we who have the most freedom be afraid? How can we who have the most material wealth be anxious? Perhaps it’s because we’ve trusted in ourselves.

Ripken introduces us to followers of Jesus in persecuted places who don’t have the option of trusting in themselves. They had to trust in God. And God came through for them. 

I highly recommend this book. But be warned: It may change the way you see the world.