SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR
By Marsha West
September 22, 2006
It is painfully clear that a large number of professed Christians are seriously lacking on what constitutes authentic Christianity. They�ve slipped their moorings and are adrift without a rudder. You know things are bad when a Christian is unable to explain why he or she believes in Jesus Christ. They simply cannot move beyond, �Jesus died for my sins� in a discussion. Some people even try the excuse, �My religious beliefs are personal.� They�re hoping that if they toss out the �personal� defense, it will get them off the hook, as most people won�t pry into private matters. Inside they�re quaking like a bowl of Jell-o, praying that their questioner won�t press them to give a rational reason for believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
I have actually heard professed Christians say, �I was raised Baptist (or Methodist or Catholic?) and went to church every Sunday when I was a kid� as if that qualifies them as a Christian. Going to church on Sunday doesn�t cut it, folks. The Bible says, �But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect� (1 Peter 3:15).
Christians are put on this earth to share their faith with unbelievers. Dodging questions regarding your faith does not get you high marks with God. On the contrary, Jesus said, " Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.� (Luke 12:8,9). Harsh words. Scary thought.
Which brings to mind an Old Testament story. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were around sixteen years old when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and carried the Jews into captivity. Forthwith their names were changed to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, respectively. (Veggie Tales calls them Rack, Shack and Benny.) These young men were �good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king�s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 1:4). They were also religious. What mattered to them above all else is what the Bible said. It was the ultimate authority in their lives. Because they had God's word in their hearts, they were faithful to Him. One day the king decided to have an image of gold made and summoned the governors from the surrounding area to come to the dedication of the image. The king commanded that all of his subjects fall down and worship the gold statue.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were pressured to worship the image but they refused. They chose to remain faithful to God regardless of what the consequences might be. The king threatened to have them thrown into a blazing furnace. Still, they would not relent. It took chutzpah to defy a king. But that�s what they did. True to his word, the king had the three of them thrown into the blazing furnace. God to the rescue! He sent a heavenly visitor into the furnace with them. Not a hair on their heads was singed. (Those boys had fire insurance!) The king became an instant convert. He said, �Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king�s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!� (Daniel 3:28).
The other day I was listening to a radio talk show (conservative) and the host asked the listening audience, �What would you do if you were forced to convert to Islam at the point of a gun?� One caller, claiming to be a Christian, said �If it were me, I�d probably convert.� Another caller insisted that she would never convert, even with a gun to her head or a knife pressed against her throat. The host was quick to point out that while the Apostle Peter stood warming his hands by an open fire he was asked if he knew Jesus and he denied knowing him three times. Peter was one of Jesus�s followers, he saw His miracles, and still he was afraid to admit that he knew Jesus! In the host�s way of thinking it�s understandable, even acceptable, for a terrified Christian to deny Christ.
But what about all the Christian martyrs we read about in the history books, the ones who were marched into a den of hungry lions to be eaten alive, or covered in pitch and used as human torches to light the streets of Rome? Certainly they were terrified by the prospect of the pain they�d have to suffer for refusing to renounce their belief in Christ. The Apostle Paul had his head separated from his body with a sword. (The guillotine wasn�t invented until the French Revolution.) Think he wasn�t a tad nervous? Legend has it that Peter was crucified with his head downward because he declared himself unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord. Joan of Ark was burnt at the stake. Her response was to repeatedly call out the name of Jesus while the flames lapped at her feet!
In the old days, Christians chose death over renouncing their faith in Christ. Yet modern Christians should do whatever it takes to skirt death? And this would include �temporarily� converting to another religion!
Not all Christians are worried about the here and now; they�re more concerned with pleasing God. As I write this piece, Christians around the globe are being tortured, mutilated and murdered for refusing to renounce their faith. They are the real martyrs.
Christian martyrs are different from Japanese kamikaze pilots that flew planes into ships or Islamic jihadists who fly planes into buildings. They all chose when and how they will die. Today�s Christian martyrs are not given that option. Their lives are snuffed out by Christ-haters, not for any crime they�ve committed, only because they bear the Name of Jesus Christ. Case in point: In 2005 on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi 3 teenage girls, all Christians, �were savagely attacked with machetes as they walked across a cocoa plantation on their way to the private Christian school they attended. Their heads were found some distance from the bodies, the head of one girl discarded mockingly in front of a Christian church.�
Contrast Christian martyrdom with Muslim martyrdom. Islam rewards those who are willing to die for their god, "Allah." The Islamofacists believe that those who murder the infidels, burn their cities, hijack airplanes to fly them into buildings, butcher innocent women and children, and generally terrorize people, will spend their eternity in Paradise. They expect to be rewarded for their violence with 72 virgins who await them at the gate and offer them a bottle of French wine. (Evidently there are vineyards in Paradise.) Men and women are willing to strap bombs to their bodies and blow themselves to kingdom come so that they will receive their rewards in heaven, sooner than later. Many jihadists are conditioned from childhood to become killing machines.
In Palestinian textbooks there�s an officially sanctioned message for 11 and 12-year-old kids: "The noble soul has two goals: death and the desire for it."  Muslim Children are being prepared for jihad practically from birth! Albeit their reasoning is warped, these people go willingly to their deaths, taking innocents with them to the grave. They do it because of what they believe in, i.e. suicide and murder are normal and martyrdom is the highest achievement a Muslim can aspire to. Martyrs do not anticipate �Allah� meeting them when they enter heaven; they expect a host of young women who will service them to their hearts content.
Christians, on the other hand, are murdered because of the person they believe in. When a Christian is martyred and enters into the kingdom of heaven, he or she will be in the presence of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He�s the only Reward they look forward to. Christ is the only reward Christians want or need, or ever will need. Throughout history, millions of martyrs have confessed Jesus before men, and lost their lives over it.
Sadly, many Christians today are taking their faith for granted. In churches across America voices ring out, �He�s my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God, my strength, in whom I will trust.� Those words express confidence. Those same words convey that we trust in Christ alone as the object of our faith. He�s our rock, our deliverer, our strength. Given that the Church is adrift in an ocean of biblical ignorance, one can�t help but wonder if those who are singing praises in church sanctuaries truly mean the words that go up to God�s ears.
Those who take their faith seriously need to ask themselves some hard questions: Do you have a Savior worth defending? More importantly, is your Deliverer worth dying for?
If your answer to these questions are yes, then the next time someone asks you to enlighten him about Christianity, don�t give him the �My religion is personal,� excuse. Give him an earful or Truth.
� 2006 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On
Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's
books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville
Church is adrift in an ocean of biblical ignorance, one can�t help but wonder if those who are singing praises in church sanctuaries truly mean the words that go up to God�s ears.