Some people loved God so much that they were killed for their beliefs. The first martyr, Stephen, spoke out against the Jewish leadership and was stoned to death. Ironically, the future apostle Paul was a member of the killing party (see Acts 7:54-60).
Jim Elliot, a missionary, gave his life in Christ’s service. Jim, along with four other missionaries, was killed by the very people God called him to serve in Ecuador. He wrote these memorable words in his journal, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” These words have inspired many people to become missionaries.
Does God require us to become martyrs? Must we die for the sake of His kingdom? Usually not. But He does ask something much more difficult and daring of us—that we live for the sake of His Kingdom.
Living as faithful witnesses to the love of God takes more courage on a daily basis than making one split-second decision to give our lives for His sake. In one quick moment, we might decide to die for Jesus, but what about waking up every day in a depressing marriage or dead-end job and deciding to be a “living sacrifice” for Him? The reality of talking and acting our faith at work or in a loveless marriage is a difficult thing to do. Yet that is what Jesus calls us to. We are challenged to heal the suffering with a listening ear. We are commissioned to banish the fear in someone else’s heart with a kind word and encouraging friendship. We are commanded to be patient and forgiving with those around us who are the opposite…always a challenging task!
Die for Jesus? Yes—if He asks us to. Live for Jesus? We already have those orders.