Are you willing to die for your faith? Have you ever even considered it? Would you hold fast to Jesus if someone had a knife to your throat demanding you choose to deny Christ or die? While it seems like an extreme scenario to many of us, thousands (perhaps millions) of believers live with this as their reality every day. Recently I learned before you can become a member of the church in Iran, you must sign a paper agreeing to lose your property, be thrown in jail, and die for your faith.
If that sounds radical, consider the Church in Iran is one of the fastest growing evangelical communities in the world. The Church is expanding because they are willing to die. Contrast this with the Western church which is shrinking perhaps more than any other reason because we are not willing to die.
I’ve never had to choose Jesus or death, but I’ve thought about it a lot. Perhaps that makes me a little weird or a lot morbid, but I’m a firm believer in visualizing myself in situations before they happen so I can be better prepared should they occur. Intellectually, I’m confident I would choose Jesus. I have prayed for this to be so. I don’t ever want to deny Christ. There is nothing worth doing that. Of course, none of us knows what we would do until we’re faced with such a brutal reality. This is why it’s so important to prepare ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit of God to strengthen our faith in the interim.
One reason it’s important to question whether you’d be willing to die for your faith is that Jesus promised us we would suffer along with Him (John 15:18-20). If you live in a nation where you are blessed to have religious freedom, this persecution can come in lighter forms such as embarrassment, rejection, being left out, and loneliness. We must survive this crucible to prepare us for harder tests that may lie ahead. I don’t want to minimize whatever you may be enduring on behalf of Jesus. All suffering for His sake will be credited to you. I do want to caution you Jesus said we must be willing to drink the cup He drank (Matthew 20:22-23). The persecution of Jesus led to death. Are you willing to die like Him and for Him?
Perhaps facing death for following Jesus is a reality for you as you read this. This can cause a lot of fear and hesitation. I understand this as far as I can in my own context and I spend time every day in prayer for our brothers and sisters in these situations. But let me encourage you to hold fast to Jesus no matter the cost. Man can only kill the body which will die eventually anyway. Neither man nor Satan can destroy the soul. This life is but a breath and eternity awaits. Don’t pass from this life to the next knowing you denied the Creator and King of the Universe. Don’t deny the One who died for you. Cling to Jesus. Love Him as He loves you. Be willing to die for Him. Then you will know what it is to truly live.