Jesus said to anyone who would follow Him, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
(That should have been our first clue.)
Nearly all of Jesus’ disciples died a martyr’s death.
(That should have tipped us off.)
There is an incredible book entitled “Fox’s Book of Martyrs” that tells of countless people and their willingness to pay for their faith in Christ with their very lives.
(Martyrdom becoming so prevalent should have been a huge red flag.)
I was reading this morning about a Christian Pakistani woman who is currently in prison for blaspheming the prophet Mohammed. She maintains that she did no such thing, but the angry Muslim mob in her village insists that she did. The two options given to her by the crowd were to a) convert to Islam or b) die. Beaten to unconsciousness at the hands of this mob, her life was spared only by the police who arrived to violently throw her in their vehicle, take her to the police station, and continue the attack, including spitting repeatedly on this woman. With no evidence but the mob’s accusations, she was thrown into prison. And I’d be willing to bet my bottom dollar that she’s either going to be put to death for her alleged crime or she’ll die in that prison cell. Either way, she’s going out as a martyr for her faith in Christ.
Is this shocking? Unfair? Reeking of injustice? Is it maddening to us, especially in Western culture? Could it be that dying for one’s faith in Jesus will eventually be normalized worldwide? I suppose one might think so, if one believes the Bible.
It seems that everywhere I look (looking at you, New Mexico!) the walls are closing in on what I as a follower of Jesus can and cannot do or say. It stands to reason that should I live long enough to see it, we as Christians in America very well may find ourselves on the receiving end of not merely threats, but acting out on those threats. Why? Because we’re “bigoted” enough to believe that there is a supremely loving God who has provided for anyone a Way to salvation, and His name is Jesus. (Acts 4:12)
Have we as followers of Christ lost sight of our calling and therefore our passion? Have we forgotten that to follow Jesus IS to follow Him into death (Matthew 16:24)? That to receive His invitation is to embrace death (Galatians 2:20)? Or have we instead translated His call into “be nice and play well with others”? Is the Church in America doing a better job at developing mild-mannered, well-adjusted citizens than it is at multiplying disciples of Jesus who would–if faced with it–embrace martyrdom based on their love for their Savior?