What is your life worth to you? Some may say that their life is of utmost importance and would do anything to save it. Others may have exceptions, such as dying in place of a family member or close friend. Fellow believer, would you be willing to die for your faith in Christ? You can stop and reflect and then come back and join me.
Martyrs are more common today than you may think. There are many nations who are restricted severely in how or what they can worship. We are far removed from martyrdom since we live in the United States where God has chosen to give us freedom of religion. We are at liberty to worship in our churches and homes and talk about Christ in public without most even blinking an eye.
Because of the freedom we have we rarely think about dying for our faith. We can take the freedom of worship we have today and either become complacent or take advantage of it. Jesus tells us, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do” (Luke 12:4). Paul shares that to him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Is your stock in this world or in heaven? Do you see your death as gain, as a heavenly promotion?
There is a story about several gunmen entering a Christian church and giving worshippers an opportunity to leave and save their life. Those who were left to stand for their faith would be shot. Some left and the gunmen sat down and joined the remaining people. They wanted to worship with those who actually believed what they said they believed.
There is power in death. It is intimidating to face someone who is not afraid to die, just think of kamikazes or suicide bombers. As Christians, we do not seek out death in this way or seek to hurt others by our death. The martyrdom of a Christian is often the opposite; it is a person who sees an opportunity to share the gospel and forgiveness with the very person who is killing them. Stephen is recorded as saying of those stoning him, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60) Our Lord and Savior establishes this example when he says on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Dear reader who does not know Christ and may think all this talk about death is awfully depressing – do you realize you are already dead? We are all born spiritually dead. Sure our bodies may be walking and talking but our spirits are flat lining. No amount of good deeds and conversely no amount of hedonistic living is going to bring you back to life. You are hopeless.
I was hopeless once too. Thankfully, I found Jesus hanging on a cross and taking on death for me. Dying for my death and I had done nothing to deserve it. He was hanging on that cross for you too and he conquered death by rising again three days later. Jesus defeated death so you may live. It is a Christian’s belief in this good news which gives them the confidence to meet death with peace.
Believer, you have confidence to stand before the Lord because your eternal security is in Christ. We have no fear of death; this is the power of Christ in us. This mindset does not naturally come to us. Remember often what Paul tells us in Romans 8:35, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Only the Lord knows in what way we will leave this earth. If it be by the sword, may we go down firm in our faith – preaching the gospel and forgiving those who harm us!