I’ve been reading the Jesus Freaks Martyr book and just finished reading a story about how a few young children were ready to die for their faith because they knew it was the truth. Sunday school children. When they were asked to denounce Christianity for Islam, they replied:
“We will remain Christians because this is the truth.”
In our country we don’t even suffer from hearing about our Christian brothers and sisters getting martyred. We don’t even understand the concept of being under heavy persecution. These children did. And they were ready to die anyway just because they would not deny Jesus.
This makes me feel so compromised with the world because I do not take advantage of every moment for the Lord, but instead I find that most of my day is consumed with thoughts of myself.
So, what did these kids understand that I don’t? How could they live their lives with so much integrity? Perhaps it’s because they were under persecution that they understood that there is nothing else worth living for. “Nothing else worth living for.” We keep using that phrase, but do we really understand that? Do we live it out in our lives? I think not.
If I really understood that there is nothing else worth living for except for the Lord and His gospel, then how come it’s so easy for me to put off praying and watch a movie or do something else instead? Why reading the Word, where I could get the strength to live this type of life, is so easy to procrastinate about? Why I schedule the rest of my life before I think to “schedule” the Lord in? Why watching movies and working on my hobbies and talking to friends is so much more appealing than spending time with the Lord? Why?
Are you ready to die for what you believe? Would you die for the gospel?
When I ask myself this question it never makes much of an impact or provokes a lot of thought because we are not faced with this choice in America, the “land of the free.”
So what does it mean for us to “pick up our cross and follow” Jesus?
Michael Tait put it very well:
“Our mission may not involve hanging on a cross, being jailed, or being burned at the stake here in America, but we have other, more invisible obstacles. Ours is a society built by pride, materialism, and dedication to the status quo. In a world built of free will instead of God’s will, we must be the Freaks. While we may not be called to martyr our lives, we must martyr our way of life. We must put our selfish ways to death and march to a different beat. Then the world will see Jesus. “
So maybe a more appropriate question for me is: are you ready to give up the life you want? Are you ready to give up your things? Are you ready to give up your money? Are you ready to leave EVERYTHING behind and follow Jesus?
If we gave up all of our rights and all of our expectations and all of our possessions, wouldn’t we be living the life of an outlaw that Christ calls us to?
1 Tim 6:7-11
7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Those kids gave up everything they had, and they were blessed. They were reviled by the people of this world but by the end of the day there were crowned with the crown of righteousness. Our trials may last for a longer time but when we walk this way we, too, will end the ‘day’ with a crown of righteousness for leaving what we had or what we could have had behind and being willing to suffer for the Lord.
1 Pet 4:14-16
14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.