“Enter in by the narrow gate…”
Verses like this one can be confusing to the modern Christian mind. How does this apply to my daily experience? The answer to this question and others lies in a secret truth that the early believers closely guarded. It was the secret of Martyrdom.
In The Following of Christ, Greg Gordon gives us a glimpse of what following the Lord truly meant to the Early Church. Join hands with your nail-pierced Lord’s hand and learn of that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) who have gone before us, some giving their very lives.
“All who desire to live godly in Christ will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12)
So promised Paul, who simply reiterated what Jesus repeatedly taught His disciples. To be a follower of Christ is to be one who is persecuted. We should question our faith if it does not attract at least some verbal persecution. Jesus warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).
Yet there are harsher forms of persecution that some followers of Christ have endured, including the loss of possessions, job, homeland, friends, family—and as Greg Gordon points out in this book—even life itself.
Throughout the centuries since Christ gave His life, millions of His followers have imitated Him in literally laying down their lives. In fact, in our day annual martyrdoms number in the thousands worldwide. And if I’m reading my Bible correctly, there are many martyrs yet to be made.
Certainly Christ requires all His followers to at least be willing to die for Him, whether we are ever granted the opportunity or not. Thus, we should think about it and ask ourselves if we are willing. We fool ourselves, however, if we think we are willing to die for Christ when are unwilling to live for Him, obeying His commandments.
This little book helps us to not only admire the ancient Christian martyrs, but to examine our lives and prepare for own martyrdom should God will it. As Greg reminds us, God grants special grace to those whom He calls to suffer by the sacrifice of their lives, enabling them to be fearless and even triumphant.
May this book help us all to better live for Christ’s cause—and to die for it, if need be.
David Servant, January 2017