Reflection of a Martyr

Posted: November 6, 2019 in Meditations

“I gave my life to Jesus that day and I covenanted with God that I was ready to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. But I had no idea what lay ahead.”

The cruelty of man knows no bounds. My heart breaks for the persecuted church. The blood of martyrs cries, “Jesus loves you” too often, in too many places. Churches bulldozed, leaders imprisoned, villages burned, families tortured and killed: the stories spill out day after day, year after year. And their crime? They live like Jesus. Christians proclaim a gospel of redemption, they live a life of selfless love, and yet, the world hates them.

grey skulls piled on ground

Photo by Renato Danyi on Pexels.com

Jesus knew the heart of man better than any of us ever will this side of heaven. Violence is inevitable. Light assaults darkness, it exposes sin for what it is, an open rebellion against God. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12  Our Lord knew what was coming our way. He prayed to the Father on our behalf, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15

Who among us likes to be confronted with their sin? Anyone? Not me! My blood has boiled – I hate to admit it. My emotions betray me, the real me. Selfish pride resists correction every time. And if you point the finger at “the righteous”? That never ends well. Stephen, a leader in the church, confronted the sin of the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. He exposed the same sin in their forefathers. You, in your sin, killed Jesus. “They (the religious leaders) were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.” Acts 7:54  Within the hour, Stephen lay dead, stoned to death. An unholy persecution ensued, the church scattered.

Stephen’s last words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Acts 7:59,60  Stop reading for a moment. Let those words marinate in your secret self, let truth instruct your soul. God’s transforming love does what man can never do. A servant’s heart now reigns where selfish sin once ruled. His life no longer his own, a Christian understands he is created by and for God. No matter what is demanded, no matter what happens, all pales in the glory of God. Stephen’s last words reflect the glorious heart of our king, the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be with me. Shine, Jesus, shine. When the world looks at me, may they see Jesus, no matter what.

 

 

 

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