Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works with a Christian NGO about martyrdom. He told me that he wasn’t afraid to lose his life for the sake of the gospel and that many of his colleagues held this same view too. I must say, I wasn’t too comfortable with what he said. Could it be because I am a Christian too and haven’t ever thought that I could be martyred? Some way somehow his words didn’t sit comfortably in my ears; they were as uneasy as I was. Then he went on to say he believes God gives special grace to such people – and I thought to myself, ‘of course he does! In fact He has to’.
When I think about it, this should be every Christian’s attitude towards the gospel. But that isn’t the case. In Christianity today, we are radical Christians until we stare death in the face. We are devil-casting, tongue-speaking believers until somebody puts a gun to our heads and demands that we renounce our faith. It is very easy to renounce your faith as you shiver while staring deep into the barrel of a terrorist’s gun. It is very easy. Nevertheless, the issue of trust comes up here. If you renounce your faith because a terrorist promised you your life, it only means you trust him more. In the first place, who owns your life? – The one who created it or the one who wants to end it? It means you trust a killer more than your God. In the face of adversity, it is expedient that we hold fast to the confession of our faith and not waver. If you trust God enough, you would know that death is only one way to get to him and everything He has promised. But if you trust the terrorist, you would want to renounce God now and ask for forgiveness later. But what if he kills you afterwards? You lose! Remember that anybody who is prepared to kill you is under no moral obligation to keep a promise. Renouncing our faith in the face of adversity is really a matter of trust and not a desire for safety. God indeed gives special grace to those who go to war-thorn areas and nations that kill believers.
Christianity has been like this since it started. People have died for the gospel. This isn’t new to Christianity at all; Christians have been an endangered people since the day of Pentecost. Malcom Muggeridge said ‘all news is old news happening to new people’. I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, the center pillar of our faith is the death and resurrection of our Savior. Meaning, the gospel has traveled this far and to the ends of the earth on the shoulders of many martyrs. Is it not amazing that so many dead men have brought the message of life to millions in the world? In Christianity, death is not fatal. It is the second death (hell) that is fatal. Sometimes I really stand in awe of the deeds of the many saints that have gone before us. One who was so radical and ferocious; shouting from the wilderness with every word reeking of passion for the work of God: John the Baptist. Then I picture one who had betrayed Jesus by denying him three times, but when the Holy Ghost came upon him he stood before the High Priest and the Sadducees, answered questions and defended the faith like his life depended on it. Better yet, he defended the faith because his life depended on it. I picture this same Peter, face to face with death. One of the disciples, by name of Dorcas had just passed away and Peter was informed about it. Peter, the timid one; Peter, the betrayer of the giver of life drove everybody out of the room and prayed for Dorcas and she came back to life. Peter had conquered death. But not too long before that, Jesus himself had appeared to Peter and prophesied how Peter would die. Is this not confusing? How one who has power over death must eventually die? Well, Jesus’s story wasn’t any different. Death is not fatal. The worst deception of terrorism is that death is the worst thing to happen to a person. Terrorists assume there is nothing good behind the veil for martyrs. While God has torn the veil and revealed that He waits with arms opened wide behind the veil. Many are here who cannot see beyond the veil; hence they can’t see the existence of the one true God.
In Matthew24:7-8. Jesus said ‘For nations shall rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms… and earthquakes. 8 All these are but the beginning of the BIRTH PAINS’. I haven’t witnessed in my entire life, the occurrence of tragic events in such a quick succession like I have these past 4 weeks. Xenophobic attacks in South Africa; Isis killing Ethiopian Christians; The Garissa hostel attacks by Al Shabab; The migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea; Executions in Indonesia; Earthquake in Nepal; Riots over the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore etc. The list is almost unending. When you look at the verse quoted above you can identify some of the tragedies in it. But skeptics will say, ‘well, these things have been with us since time immemorial’. Therefore it appears there is nothing new or peculiar about them for us to allude their occurrence to signs of the second coming of Christ. Well, that is why Jesus made mention of ‘birth pains’. When a woman is in labor, she experiences painful contractions at intervals – these intervals reduce as she gets close to being delivered of the child. So the contractions occur at shorter intervals or in quick succession as the time of delivery approaches. This is the same with the second coming of Jesus. He says the signs will be like the birth pains of a woman in labor. Therefore, when we notice them occurring at shorter intervals, we must take heed and know that the time is almost here. That is all I have for all my readers today: TAKE HEED, THE END TIMES ARE NO LONGER NEAR THEY ARE HERE. IT IS THE END THAT IS NEAR.