….unto death. This was the accomplishment of the martyred as described by St. John in Revelation 12:11.
We live in a culture of fear. With mass shootings and terrorist slayings throughout the world, fear is growing. Believers in Jesus Christ are admonished “Fear Not”. It is said that “fear not” is found 365 times in the Bible. It is the command given more than any other.
And yet fear seems to be the driving force for what is happening in the world for believers and non-believers alike. Out of fear-we have handed over our privacy by allowing our government to monitor our phone calls and emails thanks to the Patriot Act of 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks. Out of fear-we have allowed our very bodies to be violated by TSA employees in order to board a plane. Out of fear- we have sacrificed many lives to wars, air attacks and drone bombings. Out of fear-we have it made more difficult for those weary souls to find freedom in America who are fleeing deadly organizations and regimes.
The root of this fear is the fact that we love our lives. We are not willing to “pick up our cross and die”.
We are not like the heroes mentioned in Hebrews:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16
They sought for a greater life, an eternal life with God and did not cling to this earthly life.
Jesus reminded us what we should fear-
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
As we deal with the perpetrators of evil we should also remember that the power behind the evil is the true cause of the evil, not the earthly pawns that carry it out.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Revelation 12:11 tells us what overcomes this evil:
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
I am reminded of the story of Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries to the Amazon jungle, who, when confronted with the evil that caused the tribesmen to attack them, did not love their lives. Although they had guns that were more powerful than the arrows of the tribesmen, would not kill them because they knew that the tribesmen would go to eternal death without Christ.
As the days get darker and this world reaches its end, will we choose to love our lives and live in fear, or love our God and live lives of faith and courage? The choice is ours.