The Martyr’s Testimonies

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.””
Revelation‬ ‭12:10-12 NLT

The devil seems to have little going for him. Because of his sin he was thrown out of Heaven, and now on earth he is again defeated by God’s people, who have accepted the saving grace and protection of the “blood of the Lamb” and established through their testimonies the devil’s defeat.

The pilgrims who have defeated the devil in John’s vision, however, paid a heavy price. The ultimate price. They paid for their victory over the devil with their lives. In John’s vision we see that their secret weapon was their willingness to put their faith in God above personal safety. In Western societies, the battle with the devil and his minions doesn’t impact our lives directly but is waged on a different level. But in some parts of the world, the battle is generating many martyrs, people who have taken the ultimate stand against our enemy, the devil. According to “Open Doors”, an organisation in the UK that helps persecuted Christians in over sixty countries, nearly six thousand people were murdered for their faith last year. Their statistics are sobering, reporting that one in seven Christians suffer persecution of one kind or another. According to their latest information, the most life threatening countries in which to be a Christian are Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia. The strap line on the “Open Doors” web site says, “Over 360 million Christians suffer persecution and discrimination. They follow Jesus, no matter the cost”. But these are the pilgrims, our brothers and sisters, who John could see in his vision. And he went on to say that all who live in Heaven are rejoicing about them. 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” In Hebrews 11, that great chapter about faith, we read about Moses, “He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” (Hebrews 11:26). 

Why do Christians suffer such persecution? We are motivated by love and compassion for our fellow human beings. Christian organisations and charities everywhere work tirelessly to help those less fortunate. The drug addicts, the poor, those struggling with all sorts of issues. The list is endless. I heard recently from a Christian lady who has successfully worked for some years running a youth project in the town where she lives in Norfolk, England. The charity for which she works does much good work amongst a marginalised segment of her society. And yet Christians are reviled and persecuted, even in societies that are more peaceful and accepting. But the reason is simply that the devil hates anything to do with the One he hates the most, God Himself. God’s people can be an easy target for him.

As pilgrims, we will all, sooner or later, have to face into persecution of one type or another. But one day we know that we will join our wonderful Heavenly Father in our eternal home. And we will find there the great heroes of our faith, who have paid the price for following God and not the devil. So we pray for all those who are being persecuted, that they will stand firm, regardless of the cost.

Dear God. Thank You for the opportunities we have to reach those who are less fortunate than us in our societies. Help us we pray to be salt and light in our communities, our families. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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