It is a peculiar thing, but too often the people who call themselves Christian seem to know less about their faith than the people who detest Christians. What do those who hate Christians demand? They insist that Christians deny Jesus, deny that there only one God and that Jesus is His only begotten Son. To be a Christian martyr requires an affirmation of the name of Jesus and His divinity.
Persecution In America’s Military
Persecution of Christians in America’s military actually predates President Barack Obama. When we sent our troops into Middle East to fight Saddam Hussein, our leaders forced our soldiers to avoid any overt displays of Christianity. Even though they were there to defend Saudi Arabia, our troops could not risk offending their “hosts.”
Latter the persecution followed our military men and women home. Here are some news articles that cover the subject from various points of view. Even the National Guard in Virginia has issues.
- Military chaplains told to shy from Jesus (www.washingtontimes.com) 12/21/2005 Note: The chaplain involved in this case has a website (www.prayinjesusname.org)
- Navy dismisses chaplain who prayed ‘in Jesus’ name’ (www.wnd.com) 1/12/2007
- When military chaplains cannot pray in Jesus’ name (www.examiner.com) 2/25/2012
- VA SUED FOR HARASSING CHRISTIAN CHAPLAINS (www.wnd.com) 11/9/2013
- Lawsuit: Chaplains Banned From Saying “Jesus” (radio.foxnews.com) 11/11/2013
- McAuliffe vetoes National Guard sermon legislation (hamptonroads.com) 3/29/2014
- Redefining Chaplains (familyfoundation.org) 4/9/2014
- Is Obama Waging Jihad? (townhall.com) 7/17/2014
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Say no to atheist ‘chaplains’ (www.washingtontimes.com) 7/23/2014
- Troops told to refrain from eating, drinking in front of Muslims (www.foxnews.com) 7/29/2014
What Is A Christian Martyr?
So what is a martyr? Consider one the examples of the early heroes of the Christian faith.
One example of such courage and bravery is seen in the life and death of Polycarp, a man who lived in the second century A.D. He was arrested and brought into the great amphitheater in Smyrna (in Asia Minor). Thousands of people were there to watch what would take place. The ruler reminded Polycarp of his great age and he urged him to deny his Christian faith: “Revile Christ, and I will release you.” But Polycarp answered, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has never done me wrong; How can I blaspheme Him, my King, who has saved me? I am a Christian.” The ruler then cried out to the crowd, “Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian.” The crowds yelled, “Let him be burned!” Wood was collected and made into a pile. Polycarp asked not to be fastened to the stake.
“Leave me thus,” he said, “He who strengthens me to endure the flames will also enable me to stand firm at the stake without being fastened with nails.” As the woodpile was lighted Polycarp bravely lifted up a final prayer to his God and finally the flames consumed him. He died in 156 A.D. (from here)
If we search the Internet, we will find much about martyrs. If we check the PBS (That outfit our tax dollars helps to fund.) website, we will find a balanced approach. The view of the persecutors is represented. In fact, martyrdom is a cult, sort of a sneaky plot.
[The story of Polycarp is one of our first martyrdom stories]. Polycarp was a bishop of a place called Smyrna, which today is modern Izmir in Turkey, and at a very old age he was brought up for trial and persecution…. Probably his martyrdom occurred somewhere around 165 give or take some years. We’re not too sure about that. What ‘s important about the story of his martyrdom that the church of Smyrna wrote… was that it tended to present Polycarp’s martyrdom as copying in some respects the “martyrdom”of Jesus. That is, that there’s a government official named Herod who’s partly responsible for Polycarp’s death. Polycarp is put upon a donkey and rides into the city…. Pagan officials are trying to make Polycarp recant. They ask him to curse Christ, which was always thought to be a sure sign that you weren’t really a Christian if you had cursed Christ, and … to offer the kind of pinch of incense to Caesar to indicate your reverence for the Roman gods and for the emporium. He refuses to do any of these things and is put to death by burning. An interesting feature of the story is that his father must go and collect his bones after he has been put to death. This becomes one of [the] first instances we have of what turns into the cult of the martyrs… [the practice] of preserving bits and pieces of the bodies of martyred people and holding these in great honor and esteem. Many of the martyrdoms written after the time of Polycarp tend to follow this basic model. (from here)
Who was actually the first Christian martyr? That was Stephen. How he died is described in Acts 6:8-7:60. Because Stephen refused to deny Jesus, Jewish officials executed him by stoning him to death (as a young man, who would later become the Apostle Paul, watched).
Matthew 10:32-33 New King James Version (NKJV)
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Jesus died for us, obedient to the Father unto death. He expects us to have faith in Him and His offer of salvation. He commissioned Christians to spread the Good News, not hide it.