Friday, June 6, 2014

Witness is Martyrdom

June 6: Friday of the 7th week of Easter:
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 25:13-21; Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20; John 21:15-19

“He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” John 21:19

When the first Christians received the “Gift of the Spirit,” they frequently showed it by speaking in other languages, in “tongues” and “prophesying” (Acts 2:4, 19:6). To the witness of the apostles, “God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:4); for example, “gifts of healing… the discernment of spirits… the interpretation of tongues” (1Corinthians 12:9).

We still see these signs today, but they are not the normal evidence of the “Gift of the Spirit.” That gift is evident—and experienced—whenever people are empowered to act in a way that cannot be explained by just human motivation; for example the martyrs’ acceptance of death.

“Martyr” is simply the Greek word for “witness.” Over time, we began to reserve it for those who bore extraordinary witness by dying in testimony to their faith. But we are “martyrs” whenever we suffer—or consciously risk suffering—because we are living visibly by the values of Jesus. People are “martyred” by their peer groups, professional associates and employers; by any and everyone they threaten by not conforming to the culture. An authentically Christian lifestyle raises eyebrows. And it can raise hackles as well.

When God gives us courage to do this, we experience the “Gift of the Spirit.”

PRAY: “Jesus, give me courage. You have overcome the world.”

PRACTICE: Dare to be different.

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