The Best Way to Honor and Support Christians Dying For Their Faith

 

The headlines this last week have been gut-wrenching. ISIS ‘Systematically Beheading’ Children in IraqIraq: Hell has broken out here and nobody caresChristian boy “cut in half” as Islamic State invades Christian town .

The question on everyone’s mind has been, what can we do?

An article on Christian Today provided  five great things we can do to help. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. It is a helpful list.

But I would like to add one thing they left out.

I’d like to add a sixth thing we can and should do, not only to help those who are suffering, but also to honor those Christians who have been martyred.   In my humble opinion it is the best thing we can do for them.

What is it?

It is to die with them.

I am not talking about mass suicide or even taking up arms. I mean our willingness take up our cross and die with them.

Let us die to our need to be liked.

Let us die for our need to be normal.

Let us die to our need to stay hidden.

Let us die to our desire to fit in.

Let us die to struggle to keep up with our neighbors.

Let us die to our excuses.

Let us die to self-centeredness.

Let us each and every day take up our cross (whatever that might be) and die. With Jesus. For Jesus. In order to boldly proclaim  Jesus.

When we do this we will (in a small way) identify with them. We will remember to pray for them. We will be led to give what we can for them. And we will honor them.

Yes there is persecution of Christians in America…but let’s be honest, no one is going to kill us or our family for talking about Jesus. At the very worst they will give us a cold shoulder. Or maybe make fun of us.

But often that is not even the case. Most of the time a person will listen and talk with us politely.  If we are kind to others they are more often than not kind to us.

We must take advantage of this freedom!

This freedom may not always exist. There may be a time when sharing our faith will get us thrown in jail, or put us in danger of violence. And if that happens it will only serve to help us identify with our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are daily going through the same things. Not to mention it will  further serve to help us identify with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the innocent one who suffered brutally on our behalf.

But that time is not here yet.

So let us not waste the time and freedom we have been given. Let us honor the deaths of our martyred brothers and sisters by standing for and, if necessary, dying for the same Jesus they were killed for.

Imagine what our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq would say to us who live in a country with such minimal threats. What would they have us do with our freedom?

I imagine the saints that have been martyred,  who are now in the presence of their King, would say one thing to us…

It  was worth it.

Do not hold back, do not be scared.  Jesus is with you.

He is worth living for. He is worth dying for.

You will not be disappointed. You will not be ashamed.

He is worth it. More than you could ever imagine.

Jesus is worth it.

 

 

Christian boy “cut in half” as Islamic State invades Christian town – See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/christian-boy-cut-half-islamic-state-invades-christian-town#sthash.XKcsdfLn.dpuf

Why Are There Martyrs?

Chris asked, “If God provides for all of our needs, why are there martyrs? How are their needs being met?”

I love good questions. And these are good questions.

For this post we’ll have to work our way backwards. I’ll answer the second question first, because that will in turn answer the first question.

So let’s begin with the answer to the second question by focusing on the notion of “need”. For example, when the Apostle Paul writes, “And my God will meet all your needs” (Phil 4:19a), what is he saying?

Paul, appears to be saying, “With God, you will never be needy.” But that can’t be accurate because, in Philippians 4:12 Paul writes,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

We see that for Paul there were times when he was clearly in need. So how can he write, “And my God will meet all your needs”?

The answer has to do with Paul’s “secret of being content in any and every situation”. What was Paul’s secret?  The answer is in the next verse,

I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)

Paul is saying that there have been times of need and times of abundance, but because he has Jesus, he has the strength to be content in all situations.

Now, understanding this is important because Paul uses the same logic in Philippians 4:19. The entire verse actually reads:

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Similar to Philippians 4:12-13, Paul is saying two things:

  1. God promises to meet your needs
  2. But, God will meet your needs through Jesus Christ.

What does all this have to do with our original questions about martyrs?

Everything.

The Apostle Paul understood that Jesus Christ is the only thing you need. If you have Jesus you have everything. Because, as he writes in Colossians, “Christ… is your life” (Colossians 3:14).

Paul knew that Jesus gives you life (John 14:6; 17:3). Jesus sustains your life (Colossians 1:17). Jesus directs your life (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus provides purpose to your life (Colossians 1:16). And Jesus demands your life (Matthew 16:25). Thus to have Jesus is to have no other need. Or as Pastor Tullian Tchividjian famously put it, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”.

So now let’s apply this to Christian martyrs.

When Christians are killed for their faith (martyred), God actually supplies all their needs. Because God is giving them Jesus Christ. Paul knew this, when he wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”(Phil 1:21). Paul looked forward to death because he knew that after death he would instantly enter into the full presence of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:8). Therefore, he would not lose anything, but instead gain everything.

There is no such thing as a needy martyr. Because Jesus Christ fulfills every need. When we die we get all of Christ. We therefore, lose nothing, and gain everything.

God allows Christians to be martyred, because their deaths proclaim one simple and glorious truth—to have Jesus Christ is to have everything.

Who am I?

ImageWho am I?

Is this not, at times, one of life’s hardest questions to answer? Naively I thought that by the time I was in my thirties I wouldn’t wrestle with it anymore.

But occasionally I do.

Thankfully I have come to realize that I am not alone. The other night I was reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Apparently, Dietrich Bonhoeffer  wrestled with the same question.   In prison, at age 39, he wrote the following poem, just one month before his execution.

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

I take great comfort in his words.

What’s something that speaks to your identity?