Martyrs in America? Maybe

They died bravely in the first century. Will we in the 21st?

Being heard is not the same as having influence. Believers must reconsider the issues of being salt and light in a pagan culture.  We have tried a myriad of approaches in our evangelism, and we are not succeeding.  We have been maneuvered to the margins of society, and I fear that is where we will stay.

Several years ago, a believer directed a high budget movie, The Passion of The Christ, which shattered box-office records and sparked interest in religious films when it came out in 2004.  It was compelling and disturbing.  We saw Jesus beaten and whipped, but the splattering of blood did not translate well into spiritual change.  If perhaps anything, it inured people to a higher purpose– salvation.

We must use everything that is available to us as people to broadcast the gospel.  Art, both fine and popular, music and theater, movies and sports.  We need to squeeze out every venue, in every media to share the good news. Creativity is not a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it’s close.

But this is not enough.  We are engaged in a heated, spiritual struggle for truth and hope.  I believe that our methodology will consistently fall short of our ideals.  In the time of ancient Rome the only time Christians were in the limelight were as martyrs.  And the lions of the Coliseum made quick work of their witness.  But man, they succeeded in reaching thousands, and the pagan empire was brought to Christ, en mass!

Perhaps martyrdom will be our path to reach America with the Gospel.  The New Testament word for “witness” is martyr.  It very well may be that our blood will be the seed for a new generation of believers.  Church history would support this view.  It should come as no surprise.

martyrdomI remember witnessing once in UC Berkeley campus.  It is a very challenging place in a stronghold of intellectualism.  The people I encountered were bright and engaging.  But as I got ready to leave, I met a university professor.  He looked at me in his tweed jacket and sweater vest and said something I will never forget.  “Too bad we can’t feed you to the lions”.  It was a flat-calm statement; stark and frightening, because I knew he meant it.

In this enlightened campus, there was a coldness and a bitterness that I never encountered in the “drug and sex” neighborhoods of San Francisco.  In contrast, this incident in Berkeley was a brazen and committed calculation against the Gospel. Perhaps persecution by core intellectuals will fuel this martyrdom to come.

We are in God’s hands.  Obedience is a die-cast, deliberate decision we must make ahead of time.  We can’t just hope to make it work, unless we change.  “Die before you die, and your dying won’t be death”, the old preacher wrote.  This could very well be our cue. Get ready. And “watch and pray.” And die now.

 

 

 

 

 

Post art from The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

What Are You Ashamed Of?

“We all carry about in our pockets His very nails.” –Luther

 

“I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.”  

 Romans 1:16, CEV

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16, ESV

What is it, that holds us back?  Is there a significant issue–a new boat or your next vacation to Disneyland?  Would that keep you from following Him?  Would you trade Him, for that?

So many of us are chicken when it comes to witnessing for Jesus Christ. We ‘cluck and duck’ when the subject of God or religion is raised. We hope no one is looking when we ask God to bless our food in a public place.  Honestly, most of the time the issue for us is the fear of rejection. (It’s funny but some have never really gotten past the intimidation we experienced in High School.)

The saints who watch us from heaven, have got to be astonished. (Heb. 12: 1.)  They look and wonder at the way we act, when so many of them have suffered deeply.  They have been repeatedly, and deliberately hurt. We argue about padded pews and the color of the carpeting in our sanctuary.

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:32, ESV

 I suppose we need the spirit of the saints who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. This very minute they are in prisons, in torture, in abuse all because they profess a love for Jesus Christ.

Could it be possible that God is calling you to leave your comfortable Christianity behind and tell someone that Jesus loves them and wants to save them. Will you do it, or will you be too ashamed? Let this be the year you bring the light of Christ to your dorm, your neighborhood, your apartment building, your baseball team, or  wherever God has placed you. Let Him use you for His glory!

Your faith will activate God– your fear activates Satan.

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ybic, Bryan

We Are Hated

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:18-19, NCV

There is a concentrated sense of evil that is directed at us.  There is an awareness of a hatred that is unreasonable.  Jesus however, predicted it, and warned us to anticipate this brutality.  We are spiritually linked to Him.  The evil that came against Him, has now been shifted to you and I.

The world hates us, and we must accept this.  We don’t belong.  We are the monkey in the wrench.  Our presence ‘shorts out’ a smooth transition, that the Dark one has ordained.  We confuse and misdirect the black forces of darkness, most likely more than they do to us. The issues that we now face have become mutant and a bit perverse, to be honest.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

This is perhaps the most profound truth.  What can sheep do, against the wolves? We become their dinner. The predator overwhelms its prey, and we have to learn to walk in the dark.  Our faithfulness is considered to be an amazing feat, and we definitely let it work in our hearts.

“Wise and innocent.”  As we step into this caustic environment, these are two issues that will keep us safe.  “Serpents and doves.”  Both are received as positive concepts which will help us to manage the dark.  We have an awareness that He has directed us to walk through this ambush.  But we walk in a protective shield.