What causes someone to endure great suffering for the cause of Christ? What empowers them to choose pain of multiple fashions rather than to deny the mighty name of their Lord? Some people, even the most sincere Christ-followers, wonder if their resolve would stand under torturous circumstances. Like the apostle Peter, it’s easy for us to say in times of blessing and miracles, “I would die for You, Lord.” But in the midst of an army of sword-wielding soldiers or mercenaries sporting machine guns, would we really be willing? Would we still stand firm? What is the key to unlock that sort of undying courage and resolve in the heart of a Christian? What will take us, like Peter, from one who denies to one who gladly dies?
To answer that, why don’t we borrow a little imagery from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. (Don’t worry; you won’t need a course in Elizabethan English to read the rest.)
Picture this: Juliet has recently been wed to Romeo but her father, mother, and even her nursemaid (who once claimed to like Romeo) insist that she marry a rich Count. A man she did not love even before she met her beloved Romeo. With Romeo gone and no one in her household who understands her love, Juliet decides to take her troubles to the priest who had married them. She confides in the priest that she would rather be forced to leap off a tower, or be chained to wild bears, or be locked in a tomb with rotting corpses and dead-men’s bones rather than break her vows to Romeo by marrying another man. She says that she would face things that in the past had caused her to tremble at their mere mention. “And I will do it without fear or doubt, to live an unstained wife to my sweet love.”
Juliet preferred death to the thought of betraying the one to whom she had committed her heart.
Now compare this to Christians – the bride of Christ. When they are thrust into persecutions and told that they must marry their thoughts and views and lifestyles to other gods or religions, what do they do? For any serious Christian, the answer would be simple.
They would rather be tortured and die than betray the One to Whom they’ve committed their heart.
I think that for those who suffer, their decision not to deny Christ comes as second nature. It’s the obvious and only response. Their love for Christ is too strong, too deep, too consuming to allow even the thought of pledging their allegiance to any master other than Him. They will face any horrendous experience without fear or doubt in order to remain an unstained Bride for their Savior. Their undying love will carry them even to death for His sake.
In the end, the real question is not whether you are strong enough, brave enough, or resolved enough to endure for the cause of Christ. The true, defining question is ... how much do you love your Jesus?
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” ~ Ephesians 5:1-2
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