The Necessity of Martyrdom, our Martyrdom.
Discussion and Devotional THought of the Day:
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown his power as King! Now his Messiah has shown his authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused believers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. 11 They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die. Revelation 12:10-11 (TEV)
21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the LORD and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.” 2 Samuel 15:21 (NLT)
I’ve seen all over the Facebook and Twitter the Arabic letter Nain. Most are putting it up; they claim, in solidarity with the Christians in Mosul and Iraq who are facing persecution and reportedly are being martyred. The story goes that it is the letter that is being painted on the homes of Christians, to mark and identify them. It’s a handy little symbol and stands for “Nazarene.” People are free to harass, persecute and even kill those who live in those homes.
I haven’t seen necklaces and wristbands with the symbol on it yet, but I am pretty sure some entrepreneur will develop them soon.
It’s popular; it’s in vogue, it makes us somehow feel like we are doing something against the evil in their lands.
Most of us aren’t. We may change the photo on our FB. We might even donate an extra 10 or 20 bucks in the offering plate and designate it for relief. We might have heard them added to our prayers at church on Sunday, and said amen under our breath. (that assumes we were there, and heard the prayers)
But are we really willing to go to Iraq and stand beside them, and/or take their punishment? ( Sometime read the story of the martyrdom of Maximilian Kolbe – a catholic saint who did that very thing!) How far are we willing to take this fight?
And what fight is it? Is it a fight against injustice, the fight for making sure that no one ever suffers persecution. It’s a fight that no one ever has to faith death because of their faith?
Or is the fight something against something more insidious, something more evil, evil incarnate, the power of Satan. The power of the one who would accuse us of the sins we have committed and demand that we pay for each and everyone.
Revelation is clear on how that evil is defeated.
1. By remembering that Christ’s death, the shedding of His Blood cleanses, purifies and sanctifies us. That God declares us righteous and just because of that blood being shed.
2. By the words of our martyrdom, the words of our witness. It is interesting to note that martyrdom and witness are the same word in Greek. That we are so in awe of #1 that we have to share it with others, That God’s love and desire to save us transforms us into wanting others saved, even at great cost. For some that means they will dedicate their lives to serving wherever God wants, even if it means forgoing things the rest of us take for granted. Families, homes. jobs, personal pleasure. For others, it may mean their life.
For all of us, it means sacrificing the idol of self and pleasure. If we aren’t willing to do even that, can we say we stand in solidarity with those who
3. #1 and #2 lead to this – that we can’t love our life so much that we aren’t willing to sacrifice, or even portions of it (say a day off or a vacation, or even time with family) that others might know.
Paul talks of standing in solidarity, standing in communion, when he encourages the church to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” He does it again as he asks us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Jesus’ words about those that would save their life must offer it up. In each, solidarity is not seen apart from martyrdom, In each we take up our cross, we willingly pay the price that others would know that God can be trusted, even through death
It goes deeper – for we are united with Christ’s martyrdom, with His witness, with His cross. There is where we find our salvation, our deliverance, in the fact that He didn’t cling to life, but gave up Himself, for us. You see that Nazarene died for us, even as some die for Him, even as we who live are living sacrifices to Him. Without His cross – without our unity to Him in it, our symbolism is void and worthless.
May we embrace whatever shame, whatever cost, whatever sacrifice is necessary, for the joy that was set before Him and before us.
Lord have mercy on us!