Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Martyrs and Heroes

Artwork from the Roman Catacombs where Christians
were buried, depicting Christ, with Peter and Paul, looking
at the book of life and seeing the martyrs below.
I was updating our staff this morning about circumstances some of our global outreach personnel are facing in a very difficult place. Team members there have been killed while seeking to be witnesses to Jesus, and temporary evacuations are underway. We discussed believers in prison in other countries that we tend to forget about the longer the imprisonment lasts. I was thanked for reminding us all of the prices being paid for the Gospel, and how we need to keep this in mind.

I wanted (and want) us to realize that sacrifice and risk is part of our calling. But I also reminded the staff (and myself) that it is part of a larger and exciting picture, for two reasons. One is that all of this risk and danger is in the cause of the Gospel, and that cause is succeeding. Conversions in Islamic nations are taking place at record rates that governments fear to report. The gospel's growth in China and other Asian settings is well established. And just today I heard a report about a gospel centered church planting movement in western Europe that has deployed hundreds of new church planters in the last few years.

The second reason  is that excitement and risk is something that the current generation of young Christians want, even though they don't make that gospel connection yet. How do I know?  Simple--look at their fascination/obsession with role playing video games where they can be heroes. Look at the appeal LOTR and the Hobbit or Spiderman or Captain America and all sorts of movies and TV that tell stories of courage and heroism. Or consider their desperate desire to feel a "rush" that lead them to go skydiving on their birthdays. Even college kid stunts are often undertaken because of the challenge and risk involved. Imagine if all of our Christian young adults would awaken to the fact that they can actually take up a challenge to be a combination superhero/secret agent in a dangerous place and rescue people from certain, eternal death. They have to be clever, creative, and careful, but also bold and brave. They can do this using almost any career or just a willingness to go someplace and help. Their mission is the most vital in the world, and best of all, it will succeed, but only as people are willing to lay down their lives.

Do I want people to die? No, but I want them to live for something worth dying for. And my guess is that deep down, that's what many of them want as well. The good news is that if anyone wants this kind of life, it is available. Now, if I can only find a way to get that message to them~