|From: "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc"|
It’s a worthy meditation for the week, and altogether appropriate for a Monday-mood: what is threatening about my faith? Acts chapter 19 details the story of Paul’s three years in Ephesus. During that time Paul took off his apostle robe and wore instead the garb of a pastor. Under his direction the church in Ephesus impacted the city socially and economically as well as spiritually. There was plenty at stake. Ephesus was no small city. The growing Christian community began to change the behavior patterns associated with the town--think of New Orleans gaining a new reputation as the city of holy living.
When their way of life was threatened the ruling powers in Ephesus manifested violence and anger toward Jesus and his followers. In fact, Ephesus was not the exception: consider Jerusalem, Thessalonica, Berea, or Rome.
Do I have riotous faith? Do we? Is there anything about the way we follow Jesus capable of threatening those around us?
- Does our faith threaten our family?
- Does our faith threaten the economy?
- Does our faith threaten the powers and principalities about us?
I have no death wish. Believe me. I’m also allergic to pain because, well, pain hurts. Yet today’s meditation is about the kind of faith that leads to pain, or even death. It's about beligerent faith.
Finally, consider this worship song from the house churches in China. When our Chinese brothers and sisters gather, this is one of the songs they sing:
To be a martyr for the Lord, to be a martyr for the Lord
I am willing to die gloriously for the Lord
Those apostles who loved the Lord to the end
Willingly followed the Lord down the path of suffering
John was exiled to the lonely isle of Patmos
Stephen was stoned to death by an angry crowd
Matthew was stabbed to death in Persia by a mob
Mark died as horses pulled his two legs apart
Doctor Luke was cruelly hanged
Peter, Philip and Simon were crucified on a cross
Bartholoew was skinned alive by the heathen
Thomas died in India as five horses pulled his body apart
The apostle James was beheaded by King Herod
Little James was cut in half by a sharp saw
James the brother of the Lord was stoned to death
Judas was tied to a pillar and shot by arrows
Matthias had his head cut off in Jerusalem
Paul was a martyr under Emperor Nero
I am willing to take up the cross and go forward
To follow the apostles down the road to sacrifice
That tens of thousands of precious souls can be saved
I am willing to leave all and be a martyr for the Lord.
Perhaps we could sing with our Asian brothers and sisters? Imagine using those lyrics as an act of worship!