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."