Martyrdom: Terror vs Inspiration

Islamic extremists who believe in suicide bombing as martyrdom expect rewards in the afterlife, as specified by the Quran. According to the religious text of Islam, male martyrs will receive 72 virgin maidens in paradise as a reward for their sacrifice [the Lifescience Website].

“Northern Cameroon On Wednesday, two girls under the age of 15 detonated explosions in Maroua and nearby Hausa, killing 11 and wounding 32 people. On Saturday, a 12-year-old girl set off a bomb in a bar, killing 20 and wounding about 80, the Economic Times reported. No group has taken responsibility for the attacks, but the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram is thought to be the force behind the attack.”

We see news like this again and again and as Christians, we don’t understand.

We disassociate ourselves from this type of cruel, horrific behavior, thinking it is far from what we believe as Christians.

I am not going to argue that we should do this type of thing [that would kill this blog for sure] but we have very short memories when it comes to our own Christian history. We have what I would call “selective memory.”

Pastor Chan in Chapter 7 writes of the Christian Martyrs: “They were tortured and refused to be released, so they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

You see, Pastor Chan points to the martyrs as evidence that Christians need a faith that when we really practice it, non-believers will think we are crazy.

From The Faith: A History of Christianity by Brian Moynahan, he describes the martyrdom of Stephen. When Stephen went before the Sanhedrin, he was “wildly unrepentant”, saying the temple was of no value and that God does not dwell in buildings made by man. He called his judges “stiff-necked,” “betrayers,” and “murderers.” He reported the heavens opened to him as he was accused and then he was taken out into the country and stoned to death. He knelt as he was stoned, crying out to the Lord “Lay not this sin on their charge.”

Moynahan said his stoning was a “watershed” moment for Christians. The strange new sect of Christianity was driven out of Jerusalem [the land of its birth] and into a wider world.

In short, the religion grew.

Like a well-made nail, the harder you hit Christianity, the deeper it goes into the wood. You don’t destroy it; you just make is stronger.

Christians today like to play it safe. We don’t want to put ourselves into situations where we have to show we are believers. We just want to say we are believers and leave it at that.

Can you imagine being identified as a Christian, owning up to it and then being killed because of your confession?

Early Christians knew that when they were asked the question, “Do you believe in Jesus?” that they were going to die.

So many said yes and went right on to their death.

Drawing a parallel to Muslim suicide bombers is risky at best but we should not act like a Christian would never martyr themselves.

They did.

We should never say that martyrdom is “way out there.”

Early Christians did it.

Lest we remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…He went to His death in a sacrificial manner. He went for our sins. He had the means to avoid his horrific end. All he had to do was say no to the question “Are you the king of the Jews?”

What did he say?

“It is as you say.”

Crazy behavior…

Before I leave this topic, you know there is a huge difference between what the Christian martyrs did and contemporary Muslim extremist martyrs are doing.

When an early Christian martyr went to his death because of his faith, he went alone. He did not feel compelled to murder innocent bystanders.

Today’s Muslim extremist does a cruel act, a horrific act. We don’t want to associate with suicide bombers. We don’t want to understand them.

Here is what I understand.

Early Christian martyrs did not instigate terror; they inspired devotion.

Jesus Christ did not instigate terror; His sacrifice saved my soul.

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