Discipleship and death…
This is not a happy theme for me.
I think of myself as a disciple of
the one I know as Jesus,
but I get itchy and twitchy when I think of dying for
this thing I know of as, “Faith.”
Stephen is the quintessential disciple/believer.
He died for his witness for his faith.
Could I do less?
But then, I quibble, what is death, anyway?
Is it actual and physical,
or could it be some other something, instead?
I suspect, that in our own time and place,
the real martyrdom for our faith
is the smug ridicule we get when we admit
to being believers.
“I always thought you were smarter than that.”
“Really, you?” Or, just simply, the loss
of someone we thought of as a friend.
holding our faith firm:
these are the little deaths we face daily for our faith!
What are those things that are important enough to us for us to give up our convenience for? Is there anything that we would really and truly give our lives for? What do we care about—really?
In a theology class during my Masters work, someone proclaimed loudly and confidently that there was absolutely nothing that they could think of that they were willing to die for. Yikes!!
I remember thinking, how sad that was, but on reconsideration, was it? It is not a matter of whom we serve, or even what we believe in, but it is a matter of what value they have to us. Life is valuable, and those who don’t think it is are either mentally ill, or liars. Life is, at the last shake of the dice, the most important thing a human being has, and if we give it up, we should not give it up frivolously. We must also remember that suicide and martyrdom are not so far apart–one being out of despair, the other deriving from courage mixed with commitment and a dash of stubbornness, combined with an outside ideal or person having a value larger than self.
For the martyr, Stephen, the faith he had chosen had a value higher and more important than his own life–
Sometimes the question is does anything have that level of importance for us? Sometimes the question is, do we have any faith in anything? Sometimes the question is, do we even know what the word, faith, means?
Sometimes we only get to choose once, sometimes we get another go at it.