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Rev. Peter Greiner

Sun 26 Apr

We could all think of Christians who have been given a very unique gift by God. Normally we think of gifts such as healing or evangelism or leadership or hospitality or prayer. And there are many other gifts listed in the Scriptures. Not many would think of martyrdom as a gift. The gift of giving one’s life for the sake of a cause.

Yet, throughout history there have been many martyrs under the guise of the Christian faith. You just have to read Mission Newsletters to find martyrs. Missions such as Barnabas Aid, Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs to name three mission organisations.

Now I raise the issue of martyrs because it raises a challenging question for us. If God is sovereign and all powerful then why does a loving God allow His people to suffer martyrdom? If you turn to Matthew 14 and the death of John the Baptist, and we quite easily call it a senseless act that leads to a senseless death. John the Baptist is one of the final Old Testament prophets, and one of the first of the New Testament prophets.

And yet we could quite easily say that John’s death is the senseless act of a lust filled leader who had lost control of his emotions. He also loses control of what is right when he makes a promise that will lead to the beheading of John the Baptist. And all because John was prepared to speak the truth concerning Herod’s marriage relationship. How do we respond when someone speaks the truth to us? Are we humble and receptive or do we respond with anger?