But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:17-18. (EHV).
Building on yesterday’s thoughts, we should be glad when one of us is poured out, spent, sacrificed for God’s greater kingdom. Yes, you read that right. You and me: we should celebrate when a fellow believer is poured out, spent, persecuted, tortured, even murdered (and martyred) for faith in God. Again, yes, you read that right. Read it again because, as things go in our world, some day soon it might be you or me being martyred. And if you think about it, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Yes, I’m being serious.
Years ago, I read one of the Left Behind books, which aren’t my usual taste. It was the one in which non-believers accepted the mark of the devil, and those who didn’t have the mark (believers) were rounded up and marched to the guillotine. One of the main characters was awaiting her own beheading when she saw a group of other believers marching toward their execution, and they were joyful. They were singing, joyful to be going to die. By the end of the book, the main character joined them. She, too, went joyfully.
I think about the people who are sentenced to die in Iran and Saudi Arabia and China and Cuba for being followers of Jesus. Do they know they are heroes of the faith? Are they happy to be dying? Surely their families aren’t happy about it…are they? Do the families or the persecuted realize that there are people all over the world who are both praying for their release while celebrating their defiant courage? I love reading stories of their quiet dignity, their iron resolve to not renounce Jesus. Those people – women and men both – are being poured out like Paul was. They’re doing a courageous thing; something we, ourselves, may one day be called to do. When they die, we can celebrate that their mission is complete, that they accomplished what God sent them here to do. They’re enjoying eternity with Christ, enjoying their reward. That’s something to celebrate.
When Peter and John were flogged and imprisoned, they sang. Paul encouraged his friends to celebrate as approached death. But should we be happy about it when our turn comes against the wall? Yes: yes, we should. We’re each going to die; unless Jesus returns first; that’s a certainty. When it happens to us, we can either face it with courage and be an example for others to celebrate or we can choose differently. And when it happens to someone else, we have those same choices. How we die matters. Let’s make ours count.
For further reading: Acts 5, Philippians 2:19
Lord Jesus, encourage me to celebrate the heroic faith of others and to demonstrate it myself today.