Thursday, September 16, 2010

Martyrs and Matters of Life and Death - Part 1

The Christian faith is just as much about death as it is life.

Yet, most American Christians have no idea what a good death is. Most of them probably think that's an oxymoron.

This is one of those 'tough questions that no one else is asking' that Summit Ministries is willing to address. And I'm grateful. At the Summit student conference this summer, one line that kept coming up was "Death is not the ultimate evil." One of the four major questions we ponder for three months at Summit Semester is "What is a good death, and what good is death?"

We have Life because of the Good Death - the death of the Son of God on a cross. And we are given this Life when we too die. I am commanded to daily pick up my cross and follow Jesus, for I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

We don't really understand this in the American Church today. I think there are a couple reasons why, and I'll address these in upcoming posts.
1. Our culture doesn't understand death.
2. The prosperity gospel completely skews what life, death, and success really are.
3. The American Church doesn't understand real discipleship.
4. While we need to discuss death, we are not called to cultivate a culture of death like Islam.

I don't have the references, but this definitely stuck out to me in class Monday night. In the 1800s, waves of missionaries went to Africa, even though they knew the terrible statistics. 90% of missionaries would be dead within two years of arriving in Africa. Rather than shipping their goods in trunks, they packed their belongings in their own coffins. And yet missionaries continued to come, and slowly the Gospel spread. Ralph Winter, founder of the US Center for World Missions, commented that he didn't think his generation had the guts to do that. And if his generation didn't, mine certainly doesn't.

I'm not trying to be morbid or masochistic here, but this is not an issue that can simply be ignored. To quote Jim Elliot, martyred by the Auca/Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

1 comment:


What a meaningful and important post. Thank you.
May God richly bless your ministry for Him and give you much eternal fruit.