Shortly before he carried out an action that would cost him his life, a young Muslim extremist (Islamist) appeared on videotape proclaiming to the West that “our love for death is greater than your love for life.” Those chilling words are being echoed in many place during the fierce conflict raging between Islam and the rest of the world. This explains why so many of them are willing to undertake missions where there is little or no hope for survival. Their religion teaches them that heaven welcomes martyrs who have perished for “the cause.” It disturbs me greatly that their cause sends them on missions that include blowing up buildings and innocent people and murdering as many of one’s enemies as possible.
But I have noticed that there are certain parallels between the motivation behind a mililtant Muslim believer and a Christian believer. Our faith also teaches us that heaven welcomes martyrs who have perished for the cause. Knowledge of that fact should likewise translate into a life that does not shun risk. But the overwhelming difference is the content of that “cause.” There is a big difference in one’s willingness to die with his enemies and his willingness to die for his enemies. Jesus didn’t teach martyrdom so much as he taught that we must die to ourselves. That is the real picture behind baptism. We have died with him that we might live with him, not just after this life is over but even now, while this life Is in progress. His cause, says Jesus, Is most greatly served by those who have “lost their lives only to find them again.” Real life has to do with all those things that lie just outside the realm of selfish ambition. We are not yet proving to the world that we believe that. Until we do, the Christian life will remain only a great ideal, a nice idea but not a very practical one. The Lord Jesus is calling His people to; “die” as the only way to live because there is a war on for the souls of men and women. It will not be won by word but by conduct. Can we win any kind of war if the other party is not afraid to die and we are?
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship