For the believer in the resurrected Christ, every step closer to death is a step nearer to our Father. Our own death may be welcomed as a “payment” for our own sins. But if we trust in the Proclamation of God about the identity of Jesus as Messiah/Christ, we may know for certain that God honors our death as blessed in His sight and will superabundantly “repay” our trust with life agelong. This confidence should liberate every mature believer to become a follower of the Lamb…who was slain. We may be martyrs/witnesses who need not love our existences even as far as death, since we know they will be returned to us by the power of the Resurrection, multifold! Such a consciousness leads, in the meantime, to a self-sacrificial lifestyle, a taking up one’s cross of abuse-taking daily, if imperfectly. We can become more prodigal givers, donors, benefactors, contributors, in a word, lovers. [04/22/05]
Our dread of death, as Christians, is more linked to a love of life and the good things to be enjoyed in it, than with a fear of what lies beyond it. This is why martyrdom, or simply the self-sacrificing deed, is never sheer suicide. It is not done out of self-hatred, spite, personal glory, fear of life, fear of the future, fear of old age, fear of degenerative disease, escape from pain, despair, frustration, or grief. It is chosen or accepted as a conscious exchange of temporal existence for agelong existence, for the sake of Christ’s reputation and proclamation. Or it may be to save the temporal existence of another person, perhaps even to ensure them the option of hearing and trusting God’s Proclamation. In any case, it is done for love.
What fuels wars and insurrections is a view of property, sovereignty, authority, rights, etc., that insufficiently reckons with the conciliating power of self-sacrifice or love. And, indeed, it is barely possible to properly estimate the magnitude of this power without the light of Christ’s Resurrection. For this grand historic event supremely demonstrates that a just God undergirds the visible universe, and will faithfully recompense such sacrifices made in His name. In the deepest sense, there is no such thing as “the supreme sacrifice” since God has the Divine habit of overcompensating whatever we release into His faithful hands. For underneath–the Resurrection proves it!–lie the Everlasting Arms. [04/24/95]
The life and death of Rachel Joy Scott, Columbine martyr, touchingly and grippingly illustrates this profound truth. This Friday, April 20th, I will post my atonement essay commemorating the 9th anniversary of that tragic event.