To Die For

I read a news story recently about a mother who was pushing her child in a stroller across a train track. As she hurried to beat the oncoming train, the stroller wheel got stuck. She fought frantically with the stroller as the engineer laid on the whistle.

At the last moment, she shoved the stroller free, but the train struck her, hurling her body several feet in the air. She died at the scene, but her baby was untouched.

That kind of love and loyalty stirs something in our hearts. Such an act of selfless devotion brings a dual rush of both admiration and cowardice. We think: S
o heroic of her, but would I do that? Could I?

I've been reading a book from
Voice of the Martyrs about heroes of the faith-- martyrs from Stephen (in the Book of Acts) to recent persecutions in places like Pakistan. The same thoughts crowd my mind: So heroic, but would I do that? Could I? If called upon to renounce Christ or be tortured, could I choose what those martyrs did?

And then it occurred to me that that is a question every one of God's children must answer. We are all required to die. Colossians 3:3 says, "You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Galatians 2:20 reminds us that we "are crucified with Christ so that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me."

One reason the thought of martyrdom is so overwhelming is that we haven't really died to ourselves. Scripture is clear that we cannot live for both ourselves and God at the same time. And most of us in comfortable, persecution-free countries opt for self, rather than God.

In places where trusting in Christ is synonymous with death, there is no such thing as easy-believism. To accept the free gift of God for them means certain death or persecution. No one has to explain to a former Muslim about dying to self. That's a given.

So whether or not you are ever faced with a firing squad, God requires voluntary martyrdom. Not because he is sadistic, but simply because He is to die for.

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