<<victim for a cause>>

It normally refers to a person who gives their life rather than renouncing their faith in Christ. To recant is the reverse – to deny one’s faith in order to save one’s life.

While in the OT many righteous people were killed, Stephen was the first Christian martyr as recorded in the NT. He continued to live out his Christianity, even as the rocks began to hit him, saying “Lord do not hold this sin against them” (Act 7:54-60). It is widely believed that all the apostles except John were martyred. Paul was beheaded in AD 66.

Since Stephen’s death, many have given their lives for the cause of Christ. It is currently estimated around 105,000 people are killed each year because of their faith – one every five minutes. Am I living all out for God, and would I rather die for Christ than deny Him?

Jesus said some of His followers would be put to death because of their commitment to Him (Mt 10:17-22, 24:9). But, He also stated that we are not to fear those who can only kill us, (since at some stage we will die physically anyway), because they have no control over our soul which is of far greater importance (Lk 12:4,5). Countless believers in history, who have “Not loved their lives even unto death” will be singled out by God for special honour – they were killed because of their loyalty to Him (Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10, 6:9-11, 12:11, 20:4-6). The reality of the saying 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity' is their sacrfice leads to the regeneration of the church, the conversion of others, God's name being glorified and His Kingdom built up.

The Bible records some who lived wholeheartedly for Christ were put to death for their faith while others were released (Heb 11:32-38). Although some Christians are called to die for Christ, all believers are called to live for Him and take up their cross in whatever form that takes to bring about death to the old selfish sinful life and live in the new life

Be determined to remain loyal to God regardless of the cost

principles that Christ has made available (Lk 9:23; Rom 6:4,6; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 5:16). It is outworking the significance of baptism by identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He willingly laid down His life for us, and we should surrender our lives not just to Him but also for our fellow Christians (Jn 10:11, 15:13; 1 Jn 3:16). This may not be in physical death but in devotion to others by giving our time and resources in selfless service – that through it God will be glorified (1 Cor 10:31). It is reported that the believers joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property, knowing they had better and lasting possessions awaiting in heaven (Mt 6:20; Heb 10:34). These people did not have a 'poor me' victim mentality rather a true perspective.

Jesus said, “Those that disown me before men, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:33). Even today am I willing and prepared to be identified as a Jesus follower and suffer persecution in whatever form it comes? The Bible states, count it an honour to be a Christian (1 Pet 4:14,16).

See also: commitment, cross, loyalty, persecution, Stephen, victim mentality.