Would I Accept Torture and Death for Being a Christian?: Meditations on Martyrdom

A striking thought: “Would I really accept being tortured and killed for being a Christian?” Wow! What a heart-racing thought this is. I sit in this comfortable seat, in this comfortable job, with no true troubles (other than the ones I construe out of discontent). But there is a world of Christians who haven’t felt comfort in this sense since their conversion. It is typically said, “The safest place for you to be is in the will of God.” Ha! Now, as far as eternal security is concerned, if you are found in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). So, in this sense, you are eternally secure. However, the context this phrase is typically quoted in is when there is possible physical danger or uncertainty. Instead we should say, “God is sovereign. Trust Him.” The safest place for Christians in some parts of the world, typically predominantly Islamic regions, is not in the will of God in the physical sense. “In the will of God” is actually the most dangerous place they could be. “Your steadfast love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). Better than life itself! God’s grace, love, and mercy are better than life. This verse becomes so real in these hostile regions. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Christians in comfortable and expensive churches across the United States love this verse and it does indeed look great on posters. However, I do not think our culture or country allow us to truly feel and live with this Pauline attitude. We are comfortable and we justify our wild spending in our churches and neglect of the nations. Oh, how we (I) have been so wrong. Would I really accept being tortured and killed for being a Christian? This is a tough question. I want to say, “Of course! Bring it on! Its preaching Christ crucified or death for me!” However, if my devotion is lacking in this comfortable setting, can I really think that I would willingly die for the sake of my King? In my current condition, I would probably cower and be shamed as Peter was when he heard the rooster crow. I hope I wouldn’t deny my King, but as I notice my devotion and desire for Him cool from time to time, I can only assume that in a life or death situation, I would indeed flee and cower. Am I ready to die for the sake of the gospel? Would I die in order to see the name of Christ be glorified? Am I truly glorifying God ultimately by being utterly satisfied by Him? When He is my greatest Treasure, His name is honored most greatly.

I read accounts of men and women who have been tortured and killed for preaching, teaching, and living the gospel. Their stories are inspiring and God-glorifying as they forsook their lives for His sake. Their satisfaction in Him was proven on the stake or at the gauntlet or in the prison cell. They did not die for self-glory, even though they are recognized and honored by Christians today. They died for gain, since they were denied the ability to live for Christ. Would I die for God’s glory alone? Would I die for gain? These questions spark more: Do I truly believe that dying is gain? This question returns with a loud, “Yes!” I need to live like this. I need to pray for God to humble me to the point of simplistic living and to foster in me the attitude of valuing His glory and the praise of His name over life itself. May I be satisfied in the steadfast love of the Lord to the point of death. Would I accept torture and death for being a Christian? At this moment, “Sadly and ashamedly, no.” I pray, however, that God’s grace would overwhelm me and help me to realize that this life is not about me. Life is about the proclamation of the gospel in order to increase the fame of God among all peoples of all nations for His glory. I pray that I would realize my purpose in life is to bring glory to His name and increase true worship of God in the nations even at the risk and cost of my life.

This thought has been heavy on my mind all morning. May this fear of man subdue and the fear of the Lord rise again in my heart as I repent of my lack of devotion and seek His face. I will not settle for mere “devotional” reading. I want something deeper. I want a relationship with God and an intimacy with Him that will lead me into an honest and true attitude and life-song that sings:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8

(Go to Joshua Project and pray for an unreached people group and pray for missionaries in these contexts)

By His Grace — For His Glory — For our Joy


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