Many wonder how the young girl with a machine gun to her head could easily stand strong and refuse to deny Christ, even though many of her elders had done just that right before her. We even wonder how a grown man could go straight back into spreading the gospel at the threat of death, after he was just tortured in prison for the previous 18 years. To these individuals, though, the decision not to deny Christ or to spread the gospel was made long before they were faced with death. The power of the Word is far beyond what we could fathom, and sometimes, we don’t get to see the fullness of that power until it is challenged. All they had to do was believe. The boldness came from their yes. We have to realize that this isn’t a different faith. This is the same faith we carry, and it is more powerful than death.
When Peter stepped out of the boat, he had clear sight of Jesus standing (on the water!) right in front of Him. He wasn’t going blindly; Peter was going with an awareness of His omnipotent King and the power of His invitation to come onto the water. Similarly, those who have faced death or persecution have been called and their eyes are keenly set on their Maker. Having the boldness to take risk certainly looks different to those of us living in the comforts of the free Western world, but it is still needed. We don’t need to preach with bullet proof vests on, but we may need to stand up in a world of compromise and choose to shout out our faith without bowing our knee to “political correctness” or watered down truth. Our fight is normally against laziness, becoming jaded, and protecting our social standing at the cost of the audacious (sometimes offensive) truth of the gospel. This is where the key of our perspective of God comes into play. Spending time with God in His word, capturing His heart and letting Him capture ours, sweeps away all of the lies and fear that hold us back. When we see that the necessity of spreading the Kingdom is greater than our own comfort, nothing can stop us. We don’t spread it because everyone needs to believe what we believe. We spread it out of that secret place of love and the perspective of His heart being for His children and this entire world. We say no to fear or compromise because our hearts are set on eternity and this world has no hold on us.
The simplicity of the Kingdom strips away all of the encumbrances of this world. Our sole purpose in life is the pursuit of God. If we keep our focus on Him and constantly follow His voice, everything else falls into place. We don’t have to worry about what’s next, sin issues, relationships, or really anything for that matter. We wonder how the martyrs get to a place of utter surrender, but it is simple: they know God. As we choose to seek Him, the issues will fall away and our troubles/fears will quickly diminish to nothing in light of our growing awareness of His power and love. We don’t have to worry how we will grow in boldness or our ability to spread the Kingdom in word and deed. If you are set on following His guiding, those things will happen without you even trying. Make Jesus your one reward. Make Him your only priority and stop trying to figure everything out before you step out. He’s called each one of us to go, preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to love outrageously. The ability to do these things is in the call, not in our preparation, talent, or skills. If you know you are called to a certain area and you feel stuck as to how to get there or what to do next, just take a step back, pray and seek God and I guarantee you, He will make a way. Fear, the feeling of inadequacy, and hesitation sneak in when we shift the focus to ourselves as opposed to our amazing King and Savior.
The martyrs have blazed a trail of passion, boldness, and faith that we are all invited to walk in. We don’t step onto that trail by being killed for the sake of the gospel; we step in by choosing the same pursuit. We push all hinderances aside, lay down complacency, and burn for our Savior. The best part is, it’s never out of a place of works or our own striving. It’s out of a place of laid down love and a decision to live for eternity. My goal is not to die for Christ, but to live for Him no matter the cost. We have an invitation to live a life that boasts of a relationship beyond any other. He is our purpose, and in His Kingdom, nothing is impossible.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any man will come after me, Let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24