“I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.” Rev. 20:4b
Pierre was his name. I met him in a country near the Middle East when I was a college student. He was a refugee from Iraq and his story made an enduring impression upon my life. I was privileged to converse with a living, breathing, hero face to face. Pierre, a Christian, once served in Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard. When he refused to carry out an order to murder dozens of Kurds, he knew such refusal could mean forfeiting his life, but as a Christian he knew he could not engage in such a barbarous act. Instead of murdering Pierre, they crushed every bone in his right hand, which has enormous significance in the Middle East, for no one would shake his left hand in public, or in private. On another occasion, he refused to carry out a similar order, and he knew he would have even more dire consequences. His entire family was murdered and he ended up fleeing from Iraq for his life. He had been living in the country where I met him for nearly a decade, unable to get work, and living in the shadows.
We may hear stories like this and think they are extremely rare, but brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted all around the globe on a daily basis. Many believers who live in peace and opulence usually are not forced (or choose) to dwell on such realities. Each of us would do well to reflect on the deepness of our Christian convictions. What are the limits to our devotion to the Lord and His kingdom? Perhaps this is a question we cannot really answer. Many of us hope that our faith is deep, even to the point of giving our lives for the faith. John the Revelator beheld a group of people in heaven who had paid the ultimate price. They were beheaded for their allegiance to none higher than Christ himself. He indicates they were beheaded not only for their allegiance to Jesus, but also for their testimony concerning the Word of God. It has become fashionable in the West to explain away portions of the Word of God which, to some, may seem to be unsavory or offensive to their modern sensibilities. We must ask: how willing am I to let God’s Word define the nature of reality for me, even when it may offend me? The noble actions of the martyrs were devoted equally to Jesus and the Word of God. To be devoted to the one is to be devoted to the other.
Question for the Day:
Am I willing to serve the Lord Jesus even unto death?