The Shadow of Martyrdom

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
“My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of communist bandits. Whether we will be released or not no one knows. May God be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20″

These words were penned by John Stam who, along with his wife Betty, were martyred for their faith in China in 1934. They were serving the Lord in an isolated village when Communist bandits broke into their home and arrested them. On December 8, 1934 both John and Betty were executed by the bandits. The night before, Betty hid their small baby in a sleeping bag in the hopes that she might be spared. By God’s grace, the bandits forgot about the baby and she was found alive two days later by a Chinese Christian who managed to rescue her.

I tell you this story because I came across some notes today that I had taken about two years ago from a book named True Discipleship by William MacDonald. One of the chapters in the book was titled “The Shadow of Martyrdom.” I am not sure why this struck a cord with me today but I thought I should write about it,

In True Discipleship, Mr. MacDonald gives a few descriptions of the attitude one must have about their life if we are to follow Christ closely. Credit for the following goes to the author, although I have have paraphrased and added some thoughts to them for clarity:

First, our lives do not belong to us anyway. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Our life is not our own, it belongs to Christ. We were bought for a price like a slave. Only the price wasn’t money, it was Christ’s blood. Our life is His.

Second, the author says, we are going to die anyway if Christ does not return for us first. So, it seems it would be better to die this way rather than to be just another statistic. I think we need to adopt the attitude of not hanging on to our lives too dearly. Jim Elliot, another martyred missionary said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Third, logic dictates if Christ gave up His life for us, we should be willing to give up ours for Him. No sacrifice should be too much for Him.

Finally, through abandoning our lives to Christ, eternal blessing might flow to those around us. Today at church, Pastor Brandon asked people who were brought to eternal life during the five year life of Stonepoint to stand up. A good part of the 8:30 service participants stood up. Basically, the people were brought to eternity through the church. Now take that and apply it to our own lives and ask a question: What are the souls of men and women worth to us?

To be honest, I don’t know how many of you who see this post will take time to read it. The word martyrdom frightens us. But I think if we could live our lives in total abandonment to Christ, we would be much better off than we are now. I think the church, our families and we ourselves would be strengthened and have a more powerful and Spirit filled life for the Lord if we could live in the shadow of martyrdom. May God be with us to love and serve Him to the end, however He may choose. God bless you!

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