Ever since I saw the video of the 21 brave martyrs, I have been stirred, unable to forget what I saw. Moved deeply.
But not by anger.
By wonder and admiration.
What struck me the most were the faces of the martyrs as they waited.
There was no fear, no whining and no anger.
There was a prayer on their lips.
There was courage to do the difficult thing in front of them.
There was a resoluteness.
I was so proud of those men, my brothers! So proud!
Those 21 Egyptian brothers of mine knew what it meant to follow Jesus. They knew. They got it!
And I have to admit, after conversations with my American brothers and sisters, I wonder if we do.
Before going any further, I want you to know that I love the American Church. God is doing great things here. We are stepping into the presence of God like never before, understanding his heart for us, being revived and learning what it means to really be Jesus' hands and feet. I love love love what God is awakening in the American Church.
But I have been very surprised by our reaction to persecution.
There has been a lot of anger.
There has been fear.
There has been talk of retaliation.
"I don't have to be that strong because God did not call me to be martyred."
"I don't know if I could do it."
"If ISIS would ever try that here, they would have another thing coming."
The question that begs to be asked then, is this:
Did I say yes to following Jesus because he makes my life happy?
Did I say yes to following Jesus because I have found him to be the greatest treasure?
Because he is IT for me?
Because he is all I need?
Matthew 16:24-27, Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 9:23-27 all say the same thing.
Then Jesus said to his followers,
"If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want.
They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.
Those who want to save their lives will give up true life,
and those who give up their lives for me will have true life.
It is worth nothing for them to have the whole world if they lose their souls.
They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.
Following Jesus isn't just a prayer we pray or a thing we do when it feels right.
Following Jesus is handing over our entire lives for all that Jesus offers.
And what a trade!
What he offers is far far above us sacrificing our little lives.
What he offers is life to the full! Real life!
And in exchange, he asks that we give him everything.
That would be my comfort.
Doing what I want to do.
Thinking of myself first.
And that includes my very life.
If you are shaking your head right now, thinking
I just don't know if I could do it,
I beg you to fall into Jesus. Look him up and down. Press into him closer. Look at what he has done for you to prove how crazy he is about you. Let him reveal just how valuable he really is.
Because when we see Jesus for who he is, when we see his true worth, we will know something deep inside.
We know what those 21 Egyptian martyrs knew:
Jesus is worth it. Jesus is worth everything. Absolutely everything.
For further reading: Matthew 10:34-39, Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 7:31-35, Luke 14:25-33, John 15:18-20, John 18:19, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, Revelation 12:11, Revelation 20:4-6 (the reward of the martyrs)