image courtesy of Star Wars, Episode IV- A New Hope
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. – Tertullian
I Will Become More Powerful
The original Star Wars movie has Obi-Wan Kenobi addressing Darth Vader with the famous words, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” While this is a fanciful story, the idea has basis in church history.
The quote from Tertullian above was an observation he made as he witnessed the early church. The Roman persecution was harsh and gruesome, but the early church did prosper. This is similar to the response of the current Chinese church. They requested that the universal church to stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.
We All Must Die to Fear
God has not called many Christians to the life of martyrdom. Most of us will never face the question of choosing physical death or life with Christ. But all of us will be asked to do something that feels as close to death for us. For you, maybe it is…
- working in the soup kitchen downtown where you are fearful to park your car.
- taking in a troubled child as a foster parent not knowing if your valuables will be there in the morning.
- picking up that hitchhiker and taking them to their next stop.
Each of these scenarios ask us to share the love of Christ in situations that may put us in danger. What do you do?
Fear is a Great Obstacle
Being foolish is no answer to how to live the Christian life. But as we listen to the Spirit’s promptings we may feel we need to do something that is not “safe.” Fear is a great obstacle in the Christian walk. Jesus applauds great faith, and great faith often asks us to walk on water. Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). And whether we like it or not anything done or not done because of fear is sin. Because you can be motivated by fear and walk in faith and everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
Why Christians are Afraid to Die
The only way to overcome fear is to be willing to die – to value following Christ more than saving your life.
This is not to say that you are to be reckless. But your life may look reckless to those who have not heard the Spirit directing your life. God may have you quit your job without having a backup plan. He may have you give a substantial amount of money to someone when you had planned on it for groceries. The point is God’s wisdom is not man’s. When we rely on what we think is right, we are limiting what God may what to do through us. We cannot live an extraordinary life if we are limiting ourselves to only what we think is possible. God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose. – Jim Elliot
- Additional Resource: Too Many Christians are Afraid to Die – Part 2