When I sat in the crowd at the latest Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference in Louisville a few weeks ago, my heart was filled with conviction and joy listening to David Platt talk about God's sovereignty and death-defying missions. He made the thoroughly biblical point that, if we really believe in God's sovereignty, then we ought to have more courage as we confront difficult and even dangerous situations. We ought to willingly face down the prospect of martyrdom with both confidence and joy no matter the outcome. And I couldn't agree more. In fact, as I sat in that stadium, I was ready, not simply on an emotional high, but actually ready, I think, to lay my life down for the cause of Christ and the spread of the Gospel.
Not gonna happen.
Oh, it's not that I know the future. I am neither a prophet nor a prophet's son. But living as I do in the United States, and being called to pastoral ministry here, I think the odds are not in my favor. I won't, in all probability, have one of those great do-or-die, renounce-Jesus-and-go-free-or-stay-faithful-and-lose-your-head moments that make for such inspiring reading later and which serve as pungent testimony to the reality of one's faith. I probably won't have the words of my sermons sealed in blood to be read and heard by future generations of the faithful.
You probably won't either.
Instead, what will most likely happen to me is that I will face, like most of you, a different set of challenges in being faithful. It won't be renounce Jesus or die, it will be the smaller, daily challenge of being faithful to Jesus in renouncing sin and pursuing Him. Of trusting Jesus not to stand with me as the fire is kindled, but to stand with me as I go through chronic disease, disappointing and painful relationship conflicts, raise my children to (hopefully!) fear God and love Him with all their hearts, keep preaching though I wonder on many Mondays whether it works, keep loving dear Karen sacrificially even when we are in conflict, and so on until death or Jesus comes. It's not fast martyrdom, in other words, but slow martyrdom, learning to daily put to death the deeds of darkness and my old man, put on the new self created to be like Christ, and trust Jesus to work in and through me to make me wholly his. This too, is a sacrifice, this too, a form of dying for Jesus, albeit a more normal, less spectacular one. But still, it is a sacrifice, and one I pray that God finds acceptable in His sight and glorifying to Him.