Missions, Martyrdom, and Mediocrity

comfort.gifLast Friday, I sent off my soon-to-be twelve-year-old daughter to the mission field of inner-city Minneapolis.  For 10 days, she and other young people from our church will be ministering to the children, congregations, and surrounding communities of two Bible-believing church, which happen to be in not-so-safe neighborhoods.

No human beings on this planet have seen greater expression of my love than my wife and five children.  Children, to me, are an incredible responsibility.  Each one is so precious, so impressionable, so filled with potential.  I am happiest when I am loved by these little reproductions of my wife and I.  They bring familial sunshine into my life each time I see their smiles or hear their laughter.

Yet, my children are called to die.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:21-26)

Cross-bearing is the mandate of a disciple of Jesus.  The cross is a symbol of death.  If I desire my children to follow Christ (and I do), then I must be prepared for each one of them to die for the sake of the Gospel.  

Around the world, followers of Christ are doing just that.

  • June 8: Pastor Prem Kumar was beaten to death in India.
  • June 15: Son Jong Nam is being tortured and was sentenced to death in North Korea.
  • June 16: Abdul Sataar was stabbed to death in Pakistan for “blasphemy against Allah.”
  • June 17: Tito Marata was shot in Pagadian City, Philippines.
  • From May 2005 to May 2006: over 800 pastors were imprisoned in the Henan Province of China for their faith.

And this is just the most recent and reported history.  I have not included accounts of the hundreds who have been beaten or arrested for the cause of Christ.  I have not detailed the hundreds of Christian women who are being raped because of their faith.

And we worry about whether the auditorium is too hot or too cold for services on Sunday morning.

God tells us in Revelations 6:9-11 that He has a specific number of martyrs:

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Am I in this number?  Are my children in this number? 

You know what I want?  As twisted as this may seem, I want my children to give their lives for Christ.  I want to give my life for Christ.  I want my family to live life a little dangerously for the kingdom.  I don’t want to be content with comfort.  I don’t want to become calloused to my calling to my cross.  I am tired of American Christian mediocrity.  I am tired of watching class after class after class of Christian school students graduate, only to pursue material gain.  What did Jesus say?  “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Materialistically-minded Christians are no more Christians than the Devil himself.  A life in pursuit of pleasure is antithetical to the calling of the cross-bearer.

And so, as my daughter drove off in the church van that night, I cried.  I didn’t cry in fear for her safety, as she goes to stay in an area where the murder rate is up 30% this year.  I didn’t cry about the mocking she may endure as she shares Christ with the lost.  I cried with joy that she has the opportunity right now to learn the meaning of the cross.  She will suffer this week and yet she will gain a deeper fellowship with Christ.  I would have no greater joy than if each of my children had the greatest privilege of all: to gain the martyr’s crown for the Lord Jesus Christ.  As I heard John Piper preach recently, there are no closed mission fields.  Not really.  There are mission fields where you might die for the cause of Christ.  There are mission fields where you might be raped or tortured for preaching His name.  And yet, there are thousands coming to know Christ in these regions of the world that are “closed” to American missions.  We must go.  We must put away mediocrity.  We must embrace the cross and its suffering.

How about you?  Are you comfortable in your Christianity?  I don’t think it ever really becomes “comfortable” to bear a cross through life, to lose one’s life in a cause greater than one’s self.  But just as Jesus endured His cross “for the joy that was set before Him,” so must we press toward the mark in our families today because of the wonderful fellowship that exists in His sufferings.  Mediocrity does not serve the name of Christ well at all.  Let’s instill a passion for Christ in our families that follows what is right, not what is safe.  You see, I do have a death wish.  I wish to give my life for Jesus Christ.  If He sees fit to give me a long life full of service to Him, so be it.  If He sees fit to allow me the privilege of suffering or dying for His name, I accept.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)


One response to this post.

  1. Brian,
    When you see your children want to follow the Lord there is no expression other than great joy that will and has filled your heart. Pray that the Lord may reach the hearts of each of your little ones so that they may desire to want to please their God and Saviour. I know from experience that when, someone you know better that I, has surrendered to be what God wants them to be it gives one a great satisfaction to know that God is working in that persons life. Keep up with your writing as we enjoy reading on Bowing Down what God has placed in your heart to share with others.


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