I was driving to Jackson the other day to do some shopping and we passed through Henderson on the way. There is a new restaurant called, “It Don’t Matter”. I think that is funny; but, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to eat at a place where, “it don’t matter”. I want it to matter to someone about certain things when it comes to serving food. Like taste, quality, cleanliness and nutrition.
I think it’s important for other certain things to matter also. For instance, I think it matters what we believe, how we live. I love talking with my friends about the things we are passionate about. I’m 55 now and there are times when I’m tempted not to be so passionate and settle down. I feel the call of comfort more than ever. I’m tempted to think, “Well…. maybe that doesn’t matter so much now as it did…” Of course that may be true. We all can make mountains out of mole hills. But the life I’ve been experiencing the last 20 years – living in the body of Christ and with His people on a close, daily basis keeps me aware of what matters.
I was talking with some young people the other day in a small class. We were talking about the Christian martyrs we were reading about in Fox’s Book of Martyrs. I told them that as we were listening to one of the students – Judah’s report – about the death of Polycarp, to note that Polycarp was commanded to deny Christ. It was a command he firmly refused and he embraced his death. The account, by the way, of his martyrdom is way beyond remarkably inspiring and convicting.
In our class we have been kind of jumping around date wise to other stories of Christians that have been faithful even unto death. It is sobering to read the accounts of what believers have been willing to suffer, counting it all joy, for Christ. I was telling my young friends, and reminding myself, that some of these martyrs were not directly asked to deny Christ. Some were killed, not by the ruling government or military, but by the “official” church of their time who had intention of forcing them to comply with doctrines not taught by the Christ or His apostles. Therefore, some gave their very lives over issues like infant baptism or the scripture being translated into the language of the common folk. I believe these martyr’s faith is the same faith that has been handed down to me — paid for and made even more precious by their blood. I asked these young people if they would be ready to embrace the stake or drowning over an issue such as infant baptism or if they would be willing to go along with the official stance even though it may be a breach of conscience towards God for them personally. Or if things like that matter, after all, in the grand scheme of things. I asked if in this day young people took to heart matters like that or do they leave that to the adults. Sobering questions…
I remember hearing of an account that has stayed with me through the years. It was a story of persecution that took place in a small town in Europe sometime in the 14th century. The details of place and year escapes me now. In efforts to gain back control for the established state religion of the day, a group of young people, who were known in the area for being strong in their faith and love of Christ, were asked to deny their common faith and embrace the liturgy of the proper church. They collectively refused. As they were being led off in wagons to an icy river to be drowned one by one by the officials, their parents and townspeople followed with great emotion. One mother was begging they would spare her son since he was only 10 years old. The child, on the other hand, was begging her to allow him to die with his friends, and not deny the faith. I can hardly imagine the scene! I cannot imagine the turmoil for that mother in particularly. Finally, after parting tears and embraces, his parents allowed him to die with his friends, handing him back his place on the wagon to enter into martyrdom of those early Anabaptist believers. Such accounts take my breath away!
So has the true gospel been handed down to us through the centuries. So has it been opposed. So has it become so very rare and precious. Yet, we would not have it at all if it were not for some small band of believing people who thought it was precious enough to die for. To them it mattered. And whether we realize it or not, it matters to us today. There is huge consequence if we believe otherwise. Does it matter enough to us to hold onto it? Are we careless with our faith? Could I be that mother? Could I be one of those young people? Their sacrifice still has a voice even in heaven according to the scriptures. There are still believers dying today.
“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.” Revelation 6:9-11