Something has been tugging at my heart for awhile now and it has to do with a conversation I had with a really good friend of mine, who was a seminarian (now priest!). Our conversation was about the condition of the christian church in America and the importance of martyrs. This is the fruit of my pondering...
A martyr is someone who is killed because of their religious beliefs. A martyr is inspiring, sets a high example and encourages others to follow. If you take a look back in the christian church's history, it's a roller coaster ride of spiritual desolation and consolation. Something that always brought the faith back to its peak after a time period of hardship and persecution is the witness of one or many martyrs. To be ready, willing and strong enough to die for ones faith- that is powerful and overwhelmingly inspiring.
I have read and studied the lives of the saints and many martyrs and I try to put myself in their shoes. I do not know if I could do it, but I just tell myself that I hopefully would have the courage and strength in that moment to choose Christ when it finally, really mattered.
I can't imagine what its like, I have never seen it for myself, I have heard of persecution still existing in parts of world, and even more recently with the happenings in the middle east. In America the christian church as a whole has in a way fallen flat, there is no peak, there is no huge low, it just is and therefore, to me, its dead. We need martrys. We need the witness of people giving up their lives for their faith in order to be inspired, moved, and touched to fervently follow Christ without looking back. There are no life or death scenarios we face here in America (thank goodness!). People are not being put to death because of their beliefs in Christ. So, then, what does a modern day martyr look like? How can I be martyr for Christ?
Here in the United States our problems lay in the depths of our abundance. Our riches. Our wealth. Our need to stay new, fresh, competitive. Relevant. This, this is where and how our faith is being persecuted. Didn't Jesus ask the rich young man, "give all you have and come follow me" and it was too hard and the rich man walked away....we don't even know it, but we are walking more away from Christ then towards Him.... Christ is asking us, America, the same question- to be martyrs to our culture, to be labeled "simple" or "not popular" for the sake of the Gospel. Living a life of Poverty is becoming a living martyr for Christ. It is inspiring, sets a high example and encourages others to follow.
We need a revival in our country, there are so many moral truths that are being attacked by our government, there are so many people pointlessly killing other people, there are so many people living depressed and then choosing to not live at all anymore, there are so many people that just do not care about anything. America has become complacent. "Do not offend Jimmy by saying that" or "that prayer offends Jane" or "if you stand up for your beliefs you are ignorant"...can you blame people? We live in fear of other peoples thoughts and words...we do not live in freedom.
The battlefield for our faith isn't challenging people to show their belief in Christ by dying for him, but rather challenging people to take a stance for their faith by living for Christ. We need to start living, and living for Him.
We can truly live for Christ by embracing and living out Poverty in our lives.....
Do we really need to buy that or do we just want it? Poverty.
Do we voice our opinions very willingly and curtly, doing more harm than good? Poverty.
Are we buying "things" in our life because its is necessary or does it just make us comfortable? Poverty.
Do we hold on to stuff in our homes,garages, closets because that stuff makes our lives feel full and meaningful? Poverty.
Do we ignore the children when we are home with them, to do just one more thing we need to do on the computer? Poverty.
All these ways of exercising poverty above are pulled out directly from my life and experience, so I am in no way coming from a place that has this all figured out. I really love nice things. I love living
large. I do not like holding back. I love being comfortable.
I need to die to self...BIG time! I need to die to the world. I need to die to the culture and cling more to Christ. I want to be in this world, but now of this world. Mike and I so badly want to serve Christ with our whole heart, but the busy, the stuff muddles, confuses and skews our trajectory towards Him.
We want to live simply. We want to clear out the waste, filth and clutter that consumes us. We want to have only what we need to live a life that reflects our love for Christ and gives us a continual heavenly perspective.