Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chewing on the Word - Follow Me

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" Matthew 16:24-26

One of the things I've noticed lately is an uptick in martyr talk, and I wonder if the people who are desiring to be martyrs for the faith, really understand what they are saying.

We talk about 'the crucified Christ,' we proclaim, like Paul, Christ crucified, but I wonder if we really understand the wretched heartache of what we proclaim at the center of the gospel. Yesterday, over coffee at my favorite out-of-the-way cafe, I wondered what would happen if we proclaimed 'executed Jesus.' 

When Jesus invites people to take up their cross and follow him, what is he really inviting them into? Is he telling us that those who seek to live and proclaim the gospel will be at such odds with the status quo that the state will want to execute us?

Martyrdom involves someone dying at the hands of another. We, as Christians, need to be careful we aren't using the talk of martyrdom to insulate ourselves from ideological critique. Someone disagreeing with you is very different than someone killing you. Maybe I'm just too much of a literalist on this one - but it does make me wonder if, in a world at war and filled with murder at home, we aren't being a little too flip when we say we are being martyred for our faith.

And still, Jesus does say, "... let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."


Stushie said...

Perhaps we are not being martyred over here, David, but we should be aware that it still occurs today. The Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazine highlights the plight of those in other lands who are literally dying for our faith. In recent days, several villages in India have been razed to the ground because Christians were made scapegoats after a local politician was killed.

I realize that we are not suffering in any similar way, but it may be that our children and grand-children may not know the religious freedom that we often take for granted. After all, turn of the century Christians in Russia, China, and Germany never thought they would be persecuted in the early 1900s.

Reyes-Chow said...

I am preaching on this tomorrow and I think there is something about lifting up the fact that there are indeed folks who are paying the ULTIMATE price for their faith as Stushie says. What we do here pales in comparison, so, sure we can have out fears, but lets be real, following Christ should be much easier that we make it out to be. Risk done with a secure faith really is not risk at all.