Looking back through church history, it’s not difficult to find stories of people who have literally given their lives for Christ. From the Acts of the Apostles up through modern times, there are numerous examples of people who died at the hands of an executioner for not denying their Lord. It makes me wonder if we would be willing to give our lives for the name of Jesus.
It’s seems kind of obvious, while still remaining admirable that yes, of course we would give our lives for Jesus. We look back at the first centuries and see how the first Christians were tortured in order to make them deny Jesus. They were decapitated, burned alive, skinned, drowned and even crucified upside down. We read these stories and think to ourselves (at least I do), “well, of course they died for Jesus! That’s an easy decision! Boy, martyrdom would be an EASY way to go to Heaven! We all have to die sometime.”
The interesting thing is that Christians are still being martyred for their faith today. In different countries around the world Christians are literally dying because they will not deny Jesus. Can you imagine that? It today’s world, people are being tortured and killed because they are trying to evangelize or in some cases just living a Christian life. Just for trying to go to mass they are being killed. It makes you feel like a wimp for not wanting to fast during lent doesn’t it? An interesting thought is that for some reason, I read these stories today and I wonder to myself, “Why don’t they just deny they are Christian? Jesus will understand. That way they can go back to their families. They don’t really have to stop believing!” What is the difference between looking up to the early Christians for giving their life and questioning the modern Christians for giving up theirs?
Here is an interesting thought. We actually have opportunities to be martyrs on a daily basis—just not in a bloody way. How many times a day are we presented an opportunity to live our lives in the way Jesus wants us to even though doing so means not doing something that we don’t want to do? We have an opportunity at that point to die to ourselves, pick up our own cross and become a martyr. We have a chance to not gossip, not get angry at our kids, not to check out the attractive brunette. We have the opportunity not to bad mouth the co-worker or poke fun at someone. What do we do though? Do we do the right thing and die to sin or do we help nail Jesus to the cross? Martyrdom isn’t as easy as it sounds, huh?