Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Martyrdom: A Last Resort

"Martyr" is such an outdated term, and in our Western Culture an outdated ideal.

Growing up in church, I was made aware that there have been a number of Christians who have died in the name of the Church. Whether for ill or better it was a reality of being a Christian, albeit a distant reality.

The older I got I began to view dying for the name of Christ as a Biblical contingency, a last resort to my Christian walk. I began to wonder whether I would ever have to give up my life, whether I would ever be forced by God to suffer for Jesus. I'll admit the probability of this happening was at the very rear of my mind.

The funny thing is that, as with many things in my walk with Christ, God decides to pull the things that I've tried to keep my mind the farthest from, he pulls into the limelight, the very forefront.

As I began to grow physically and in my gifts I began to realize the very real nature of scripture and the very imminent call to ministry in my life. The more I thought about it and prayed the more like I felt that I would have to go to this very far extent. The implications of my life choices then became very important. Frivolous certainties in my future were cast into the cold light of doubt.

If I was going to be killed or die in the line of Ministry should I get married if I might die at a young age? Would that be selfish? Should I spend time building myself up for success? Should I dedicate my self to college?

I didn't know what this feeling was but it felt very real and a potential and very imminent possibility. I even tearfully told my Mom about this feeling one day. In retrospect that was kind of weird.

The more I began to grow, read, study and discuss the potentiality of martyrdom my view was flipped around. I began to read Acts, and specifically Acts 4, where some of the early followers of Christ were excited about being "counted worthy" to suffer for the name of Christ.

Bizarre, I had read that scripture a thousand times and it had never resounded with that much depth and clarity before. I had viewed the prospect of martyrdom as a contingency, never before as a privilege. I know it may sound trite as it had previously, I had realized that throughout scripture The Gospel was displayed as offensive to the world, it was a stumbling stone. I had also began to realize that in Scripture we see that we must serve, that we need to love one another- becoming the last place. We need to be obedient, and God will never give us more than he has equipped us to overcome.

As a friend of mine, and student at my school stated: "I mean look at the Prophets! How much is loving a rebellious people who reject you, like the heart of God?" (Sorry Megan, I just swiped that) ;)

In began to realize that there was no greater privilege than to be so obedient to the call of Christ and going out and loving a people who revile you to the point of being killed for love. As Christians we are called to follow Christ example, he brought the good news of the kingdom of God: he loved and healed and ministered. He was then betrayed, arrested, denied by the one who claimed unwavering loyalty, falsely tried, beaten, mocked, and killed by a corrupt system. What else could have spelled out rejection? How much should we be clamoring to be called to die? That God has called us to people who hate us and revile us and maybe will kill us.

"There is no greater love than he who lays down his life for that of his brother."

I began to realize that there is no greater calling than that of Christ. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." That doesn't mean we should go looking to make people angry and get killed but realize that we will be joining Christ that much sooner, and of the right heart, love.

However, in the mean-time Scripture urges us to be wise, and good stewards of our lives which requires planning ahead. As far as marriage goes: again Christ is the highest calling, and marriage is a good thing and God never gives people more than he has equipped them to handle. I just need to find a woman of a like mind: A woman able to let me go for the sake of Christ, and myself likewise of her. It will be incredibly difficult, however there will be a day where there is no more tears and sorrow :)

Of course scripture speaks of reward in heaven for obedience, however I hope that one day I might be counted as faithful enough and be able to be obedient enough to have the privilege of dying for the Name. Don't get me wrong this is no frivolous decision Even Paul indicates that we are more effective alive, but death is of my own gain. Should I just jump into it? No.

As for that feeling that this will be a part of my future: I'm no where near sure. However we will see :)

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