Children's Ministry Blog
Krystal's Blog will be a place to discuss current events, topics of interest and importance to the families of our church and access to helpful resources for parents all cast against a spiritual backdrop. Check it out at http://dbchildrensministry.wordpress.com.
Martyrs for Christ
Nerd may be too strong of a term. I prefer intellectual as the word to describe my hunger for knowledge, desire to learn new things and the sheer excitement that comes from gaining new insights. I fault my parents, Jon and Nancy, for me being this way. They modeled this behavior and guess what – it stuck! Perhaps it’s the mantra that they learned at Mims High School, where they both graduated in 1966 and consistently drilled into my head growing up, “Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until Good is Better and Better is Best.”
I remember as a child when they’d reverently repeat this affirmation. I can imagine that my 2 sisters and I were discretely rolling our eyes and trying to muffle our giggles, as they relayed a very important truth that took me years to appreciate. Yes, I believe those simple words, repeated often enough, helped fuel what is now an unquenchable desire to be a lifelong learner.
That brings us to why I’ve spent the last 2 hours completing a take-home exam. As part of my professional development, I am currently enrolled in “How to Study the Bible” at First Baptist Church of Glenarden. All I can say about this course is “Wow!” The intellectual side of me is excited. For, the main focus of the class is ensuring that participants become skilled in using various reference resources and study aids to better understand the Bible. Who would have thought cross-referencing terms, scriptures and biblical themes could be so much fun! Okay, I embrace that my nerd status may have reached a new height now. But I guess I should just embrace it, because I’m loving every minute of it.
At any rate, as I worked on this week’s assignment, I came across something that piqued my interest. The task was to look up the word martyr in our Strong’s Concordance, then Vine’s Expository Dictionary, followed by noting what is documented in Unger’s Bible Dictionary. It is what I found in Vine’s that has prompted tonight’s reflection.
A quick step back – if someone were to ask me to give a working definition of the word martyr, just off the top of my head, I may say something like “a person who sacrifices their life for something they believe in; dying for a cause or belief.” Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it as:
- a. any of those persons who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith or principles; b) any person tortured or killed because of their faith or principles
- a person who suffers great pain or misery for a long time
- a person who assumes an attitude of self-sacrifice or suffering in order to arouse feelings of pity, guilt, etc. in others
Thanks Webster! But of course, every good Bible scholar knows you can’t rely on the English dictionary nor should you start there to understand how terms are used in the Bible. Therefore, let’s see what Vine’s has to say:
For MARTYR see WITNESS
(Pregnant pause…relook the entry…audible “hmmm”…flip pages to the word WITNESS)
Yes, that’s exactly how it happened. Maybe not that major to you, but honestly, that caught me off guard. I was expecting to see some variation of my definition or something closely mirroring Webster’s. But that’s not the case. Scratching my head, I delved deeper. The Greek word martus or martur means one who bears “witness” by his death. Specifically, when referencing Acts 22:20, “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed…”, it refers to those who “witness” for Christ by their death.
This causes me to reflect a bit more about the true meaning of martyr. In general, it means “witness.” A person who maintains a deep, unshaken faith, to their core. So much so, that their belief is evidenced in their willingness to die for it. Stephen was stoned to death because of his resolute faith in Jesus. Unto death, he maintained his faith and through death was a witness for Jesus and a conduit for furthering the spread of the Gospel.
Witnesses For Christ, Unto Death
As Christians, we are called to be witnesses for Christ. Our actions, words and thoughts should all correspond with being a credible witness for our Lord and Savior. In order to be a credible witness, it requires that our lives consistently align with and submit to the will of God. I’d even be so bold as to suggest that it means witnessing for Christ through our death.
Let me take the time to unpack that statement to ensure there’s no misconceptions here. I am not suggesting a physical death. Although our faith should be so solid that if it ever came to it, we’d be able to boldly proclaim that we are Christians no matter the costs. But, I’m talking about something more immediate, spiritual and definitely a command from God. If our lives are our witness for Christ, shouldn’t they be submitted to Him? A spiritual death to self, ushering in God’s free reign in our life?
Let me be clear and transparent – submission is something that I avoided for years. It has only been during the last 5 years or so that I’ve deliberately sought God’s guidance in growing in this area. What I’ve found is truth in the words Jesus proclaimed in Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny (or die) themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’”
To further clarify the point, that the only way to be a true witness is through a spiritual death, Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Just as Christ died so that we may have life, we are to die to sin, die to self and allow His Spirit to dwell in us. Through this indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His empowering and enabling grace, our new life will bear the witness that God requires.
As much as this is a reminder and daily undertaking for me, I hope this is an encouragement and maybe even a challenge to you – be a martyr for Christ. Be intentional in the daily submission to His will and fully surrender your life to Him. By dying to self, you life for Christ and your faith will be evidenced in your life. What an awesome witness that can be – a valuable tool in leading others to salvation!
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.