Earlier this week, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Reforms announced James Coates was set to be released in a few days after crown prosecutors withdrew all but one charges against James Coates.
Many of us believed the set day for his possible release was yesterday. However as his wife, Erin, confirmed yesterday, James Coates hasn’t been released yet. He will stand before a judge on Monday morning for his hearing, so let’s all kneel before the judge of the universe—the only judge sure to judge justly—to compel the judge to set James Coates free before his trial in May.
As you all know, I’ve been thinking about James Coates a lot—even before his arrest. I really admire him and his wife. And I really admire his church, especially since some of the church members are my dear friends.
But I especially admire James Coates’ courage. I do not want James Coates to suffer anymore than he already has. But I know his suffering has blessed him and many others, including me. I’ve been praying for and reflecting on the government persecuting James Coates for a long time, and I’ve been wondering: “am I preparing for persecution? Am I preparing for perseverance?”
It’s easy to retweet James Coates’ courageous act, it’s more difficult to repeat it.
Before James Coates’ courageous public act of faith, he must have made many courageous private acts of faith. He must have made many seemingly small courageous choices in front of God alone before he made such a big courageous choice in front of the whole world. Private obedience to God precedes public obedience to God, private courage precedes public courage. James Coates was preparing for persecution, and he was preparing for perseverance.
I want to be like James Coates. I want to prepare for persecution. I want to persevere. After all, if I’m not preparing myself for persecution, I’m not preparing myself for perseverance. Our culture is increasingly hostile to people like me—not because of what I look like, but because of who I want to be like: Jesus Christ.
Though many people think I should be worried about “systemic racism” against black people, I’m actually concerned about persecution against Christians.
Nevertheless, though many of us young men are so quick to publicly criticize pastors who are unwilling to defy the government, how many of us are unwilling to privately defy Satan? For instance, how many of us are unwilling to fight against porn?
If our faith isn’t strong enough to make us say “no” to porn, we shouldn’t be so sure our faith would be strong enough to make us say “yes” to prison. Strong faith starts in our private rooms, not in public court.
I am not so sure I am courageous enough to say “yes” to prison. That’s because though I’m not addicted to porn anymore, I’m still tempted to say “yes” to porn. That’s why I have Covenant Eyes. That’s why I have dear friends who keep me accountable. That’s why I’m writing this article.
It takes a deeply courageous person to choose to suffer for righteousness sake. Courage is choosing to suffer privately by saying “no” to porn and all sins. And by doing that, we’ll be prepared to choose to suffer publicly by saying “yes” to persecution. So let’s prepare for persecution. Let’s prepare for perseverance.