A few times in my life, the concept of martyrdom has come up. I’ve read a few books on people who became martyrs, or close to it (including a book I reviewed here). I find these stories to be heartbreaking and I view the martyrs as being very brave. Yet, this concept evokes reflection inside my soul and stirs up interesting conversations with others who may have opposing views. This topic was once again brought to my attention this past week.
An individual was expressing her view on how wonderful it is to become a martyr. Now, I try to be open to differing viewpoints, and so I continued to allow her to express her views. Then she began to communicate that she expects the same from me since we are of the same faith, Christianity. My viewpoint tends to be a bit different than hers. Maybe it makes me “less” of a Christian than her? I don’t know. That’s up to God to decide, in my opinion; not another human. But this is how I feel about the topic.
If a person feels lead to share their faith in an environment where their life may be at risk, that is their choice. This is a brave decision and it is one that is very impactful on the individual’s life and the lives of those around him/her. I respect that decision. If I were to ever be in that situation, I do not know how I would respond. My gut tells me that I would probably confess I am a Christian and have full faith in the outcome – whether it be life or death. But then there’s another element….
What if your words and actions determine the life, or death, of those whom you love? Would you turn to your 8-year-old daughter and say, “Welcome to Martyrdom.” And then allow someone to kill her? Would you openly share your faith knowing that it will result in the death of your spouse? Some people might feel so strongly that God will carry them through any storm, that they would be willing to directly offer a loved one to become a martyr, but I could not possibly do that. For me, it is one thing to stand firm in my faith when death is staring at me. It is another thing to offer the life of a loved one, knowing that my confession would result in his/her death. Perhaps this makes me weak in faith? I do not know. Genuinely, I do not think that God would view it in that manner, but I may be wrong. I believe in a loving God and I do not think he would want me to offer my loved one as a martyr when it is not the only option. I feel like it is my duty to protect those whom I love. Can I protect them from everything? No. But I do not think that means one should open the door to martyrdom for others.
The conversation continued and the individual stated that martyrdom no longer happens in this generation. Okay, I know I have not traveled all around the world, but I do believe news reports of places around the world where you are killed due to your religious beliefs (along with other subgroups as well). I do not believe that this is a thing of the past. It is very real today. Perhaps because we are living in a “free” country – America – where freedom of speech is written in the law, people feel the same carries across the world, but this is not the case. People die every day due to their religious beliefs. Families are torn apart. Lives are destroyed. It is a very sad and dark reality for far too many people. And one that I pray I never have to experience, but does that make me not as “good” of a Christian? I do not believe so. What God has destined for one life, He does not have destined for another. After all, if all Christians were to actively go become martyrs, then none would be left to share their testimonies and lead others to the Gospel. So, no matter who judges me, nor what mean comments come my way throughout the years, I’m going to try and have peace with the belief that the door of martyrdom is not meant for everyone. Some people express their faith through shouting down the sidewalks and singing loudly for all to hear. Other people share their faith through living in a manner that makes a strong impression on the lives of those who are quietly observing them. When the days end, I will be responsible for my decisions and those will be judged by only One.
Ahmeli… that we never stop praying for those who became martyrs and their loved ones.
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