Saturday, April 22, 2017
THE BLOOD OF MARTYRS
Dearly Beloved, THE BLOOD OF MARTYRS “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24 NKJV). As I was about to sleep recently, I checked my WhatsApp Messenger to see if there was any urgent message to be attended to (that has become my daily practice). I came across a video clip in a WhatsApp group with a subtitle “Pray for Syria”. I could not bear watching the video clip to the end as it turned out to be one of those incidents where some Christians were being beheaded one after the other by their persecutors. The horror of seeing blood gushing out of the necks of the beheaded people at the one slash of the sword/cutlass could not make me continue to watch the video clip. In fact, I blamed myself for watching such a horrendous thing when I was about to sleep that night. It was as if I never heard or even watched such awful video of Christians being slaughtered like animals before. I kept on wondering why a human being would gruesomely kill a fellow human being in the name of fighting for one god who cannot defend himself. Then I remembered the paraphrase of a statement made by an early church leader called Tertullian in 197 AD: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” How true is this statement? Jesus Christ proverbially stated that a grain of wheat has to fall into the ground and dies before it can produce more grain (see John 12:24). He demonstrated this by dying on the cross so that mankind might have eternal life. Right from the death of first known Christian martyr, Stephen in Acts 7, to the modern-day Christian martyrs, the blood of these martyrs, in most occasions, has really become the seed of the growth of Christianity. This has been proved from history. However, I still keep wondering: must people be killed before there is growth in Christian faith? Persecution of all forms is inevitable in Christian life (see 2 Timothy 3:12). The more the Christian is persecuted or tested, the stronger he becomes in his Christian faith (see 1 Peter 1:7-9). The more Christians are killed for their faith, the more other Christians are united in prayer, and the more the spread of Christianity. Indeed, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Nevertheless, are you ready to lay your life down for your faith? You may not be literally killed as a martyr, but are you ready to really be a witness with your action and words for Christian faith? (Interestingly, the English word, martyr, comes from the word for witness in the original Greek!) In His service, Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor). Prayer Points: 1. Pray that your life will truly be a “martyr” (witness) for your Christian faith and that it will contribute to the growth of Christianity in your area. 2. Pray for Christians in persecuted areas of the world that they will continue to have grace to withstand the persecutions.