It's been in the Scriptures all along. The invitation to come die with and for Jesus. I shall not try to explain it away. We must not only "hate" the world around us, but our own life too.
"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
It starts in the Old Testament. See Joseph off to give food to his brothers. Left for dead. The prophets one by one eating the sweet word of God, but when feeding it to those around them, one by one tasting the bitterness of death. Jesus Himself, and foremost, with His message to give, a life to live, but Who gives Himself freely in love to die. The apostles with that same message, but death is their reward too. They count it a privilege to die with Jesus.
Through the church's history the trail of blood is the pathway along which the narrow way winds. Enemies of the Roman State, then enemies of the Roman Church, and systems like it in many nations. Called to die for Jesus. Nothing has changed.
Why even in the last days, during the last trials of the church, a great company is ushered into heaven and the question rings out, "Who are these?" The answer is that these innumerable members of the Body of Christ got there, not escaping from, but right through the middle of, great tribulation.
Yes, far be it from the Scriptures to say that the "tribulation saints", as we love to call them, are the spineless backslidden Christian wannabes portrayed in slick books and movies in this post-Christian era. That they are some sort of second-class citizens who don't even merit the name "church". No, that same group is described later by John as beheaded witnesses who are lifted up to reign with Christ for 1000 years. They become the brightest stars the church has ever known.
Does the book-reading movie-loving "saint" of our own lazy culture think that somehow our own slovenliness at Christian warfare will be able in any way to compare with those luminaries? That we should be snatched up to glory while the enemy is raging at his highest decibels on earth?
The call is to trouble and suffering and death. If we suffer with Him, we reign with Him. All who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Those who will follow the crucified Christ must follow Him in this also. There are no exceptions. The one who dies for Christ seals the message of the cross that he has preached.
Even now, readers and listeners may be waiting for the softening of the blow. "Here is what that really means," he will say. No, there is no interpreting away of God's Word. The call upon our lives is the call to die. Yes, surely there is a crown. Yes, surely there is pure joy on the other side. But the other side is reached through the valley of a death chosen by us. A decision to take the cross and be crucified upon it in His time and place. For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. The cross is on the way to the crown. For so many of us we view the cross as "in the way."
Yes, death will come to all regardless of our choices. But how wonderful from Heaven's vantage point to see one who did not have to die, go ahead and give his life anyway.
We've heard the call to salvation. The call to the Spirit-filled life. The call to faithfulness. The call to growth and service. If we are to continue on with Him, we must hear the call to die.
Look for "Bob Faulkner" on http://sermonaudio.com - There you will find a combination of love for the Scriptures and a desire for North Korean believers to have their needs met. There are nearly 300 blogs , ovber 200 Bible teaching MP3's, lists of resources, NK picture albums, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together! Contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Would love to fellowship with believers who respond .