This morning I have been thinking about the "martyrs" who crashed their planes into the World Trade Centre Towers. I have been thinking about jihadist martyrs in general, and how differently they compare with Christians. There are good things, but there are also bad. On the one hand, I am comforted. On the other, ashamed.
It comforts me to know that God did not demand that we actively seek martyrdom. We are not to arrange our own deaths in the false belief that killing infidels will gain us entry to Heaven. However, should the greatest sacrifice be demanded of us, we may rest in the knowledge that not only will God give the faithful strength to endure, but that we are doing the right thing and walking the path trod by so many before us.
And yet, even as I think of this, I am shamed. How many of us do walk in the footsteps of our forefathers? Do I? Do we live our faith to such a degree that should martyrdom be required, we would have the strength to endure? Do I? Do we shun all evil? Do we condemn something as big as blasphemy?
Or do we say that "It's ok. It's only a joke?"
Do we shun the lascivious lifestyle of the world, or do we crave to be fashionable to the point of immodesty? Do we give all we can to the poor and the service of God, or are our investments, careers, houses, vehicles and a million other creature comforts more important to us? Do I? Do we truly recognise that since "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it" and we are "the work of His hands" that His truth must be taught everywhere, especially the science classroom? Or do we remove Him from those domains we falsely believe to not be His?
Muslims have no room for separation of mosque and state in their religion. Truly, the separation of God from the state is not a belief espoused anywhere in the Bible, and yet how many Christians wrongly argue for it?
It is my fear, fellow believers, that the Muslim and especially the "extremist" Muslim may stand to condemn the believer. We hold the truth and yet neither live it nor fight for it. We state what we believe, but we need much more than mere statements. They cling to a lie with such fervency and passion that they die daily. We do not have even a tenth their drive, and it is a sad thing.
Now, please note that I certainly would not advocate some rampant holy war in the name of Christ. This is certainly not a favourable direction. I would, however, encourage all to shed the worldliness that so easily entangles us. Surely, we are not the first Christians to be beset by such things. History is filled with countless examples of those who have had to fight the world's many lures.
Today, many will be mourning the loss of loved ones. Many will be reflecting on a tragedy. What a perfect opportunity to show them Truth: that God commands and controls all things; that not a soul is lost without His knowing it; that not one man, woman or child is anything without Him.
We must preach the whole Truth. We must tell the lost of their sin, but also of God's grace. Many will not wish to hear it. The unrepentant will scorn the Truth and praise a lie. Many will mock. That which massages only the ego will be labeled "mature" while the truth is labeled as "intolerant" or "hardline." But labels are not death and nothing to be feared. We must proclaim the truth with boldness. If we cannot do it while the times are easy, we cannot expect to die for our faith or stand boldly when the times grow hard.
We will not have had the practice.