Will the American Church Embrace Martyrdom? Why it Must!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (TEV)
10 Then I heard a strong voice out of Heaven saying, Salvation and power are established! Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah! The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out, who accused them day and night before God. 11 They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness. They weren’t in love with themselves; they were willing to die for Christ.Revelation 12:10-11 (MSG)
35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. Hebrews 11:35-37 (NLT)
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
Pictures of Stephen being stoned, with a smug young man named Saul standing in the distance. That same man, being beheaded. Peter and Andrew being crucified. The list of things in the Hebrews passage above, describing the end of life of many believers. In modern days, Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries being killed, or the people in countries in the Middle East and Asia being killed because they went to church. Churches blown apart by suicide bombers.
Will it happen here? Will we be called upon to be Martyrs? Are the “restrictions” being place on believers in the public square and in public education and in the Healthcare Mandate the forerunners of a great persecution of the church?
Will the American Church fight against martyrdom, run from it, or in faith, embrace it?
Will we wait until we are truly persecuted to embrace it?
You see, martyrdom is not just dieing as victims, matter of fact, a victim mentality is foreign to the idea of martyrdom. We’ve lost the true concept of the word, which is to bear witness, no matter what! Martyrdom means to testify and to “prove”, to stand behind that testimony, even if it means our life.
It is what we are commissioned to do, from the very moment of our baptism. It is our call as the church, to be so focused on the mercy and grace and love of God, that our very lives testify to this relationship God wants with everyone.
Martyrdom is our mission, our apostolate, the reason why we aren’t taken to heaven when God calls us and makes us His own. In order to be martyrs, we embrace sacrifice, suffering and even persecution the way Christ did, not struggling against it, It takes a a special attitude. It means that we have to realize that those who would annoy us, try to restrict us from expressing our faith publicly, those who mock us, and even those who are determined to physically abuse or kill believers, they are not our enemy. They are the ones we have been sent to love, to show mercy to, to share the reason we have hope, no matter what we have to endure to testify to God’s love and mercy for them. We have to get out of our mind that they are the opposition. They are the ones we are called to be martyrs for, even as we pray for them as Stephed did in Acts. Asking that God would NOT hold their sin against them.
We need to embrace it, we need to have the trust in Jesus, that as we live, testifying to His love, that He will give us the strength to endure in Him. That He will give us the words, and the strength to love, even as He calls us to be His witnesses, His martyrs.
May His church always embrace that call.
Lord Have Mercy!
- Persecution, Martyrdom, the Love of Christ…. and a hard lesson in prayer (justifiedandsinner.com)
Posted on December 17, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, Church, Jesus, Martrydom, persecution of the church, sacrifice, suffering, witness. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
Excellent questions and thoughts in this theme of suffering even death for the faith. I like that you emphasize the “witness” aspect.
The idea of wtiness/tesitmony is often lost sight of in the use of martyrdom. In the New Testament the Greek word μάρτυρα (martyr) and cognates occurs 115 times. In every case it is the testify/witness understanding, and translation into English. The closest to the idea of death as martyrdom comes in Rev. 20:4 “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.”
The transition to martyr referring to death is a late 1st century and 2nd century usage.
Keep up the good work, Dustin.