Throughout the pages of the Bible we find examples of faith. We find those who are weak in faith and those who lose faith quickly under almost any circumstance. We also see examples of those of tremendous faith. Those with faith that never wavered, never broke down, never cracked, never gave up or gave in.
In the New Testament age we know that individuals died for their faith in Christ. We know individuals were imprisoned for their faith. The Apostle Paul wrote most of the New Testament from prison. Even the bars of this cold, dark and twisted world was not enough to silence his love for Christ and the brethren.
When we start to complain because of the hardships we face because of our faith in Christ, considering the following: Stephen in Acts 7 was stoned to death for his faith in Christ, James the son of Zebedee was beheaded for his faith, Philip was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterward crucified. Matthew was slain with a halberd (a combination spear & battle-ax). James the less was, at the age of 94 beat and stoned by the Jews. Matthias was stoned then beheaded. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross (later known as St. Andrews Cross). Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol. Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down. Paul “gave his neck to the sword”. Jude was crucified. Bartholomew was beaten and then crucified. Thomas was thrust through with a spear. It is believed Luke was hanged (Fox's Book of Martyrs). All these men and other individuals died for their faith in Christ. If that wasn't enough Nero is credited with “dressing Christians in shirts made stiff with wax, and fixed them to trees and then set them on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them (Fox's Book of Martyrs).
It’s clear that such sacrifices were not made lightly. Men and woman throughout the ages have determined to sacrifice their lives to remain faithful to God. Such verses as Matthew 10:39 reminds us of the reward of those who sacrifice their lives for Christ. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”.
The next time we think getting up early on a Sunday is a sacrifice remember those who gave so much more. The next time you go on vacation and skip services remember those who gave it all. The next time you start thinking the church is too demanding remember what Christ gave for you.
Surely our sacrifices are nothing in the sight of those who gave their lives and is nothing compared to what Christ gave for us. It’s time we all remember that being a Christian is not for the weak, but for the brave and the strong. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” 1Co 16:13.