There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. John 1:6-8This week I’d like to draw your attention to a curious Greek word used in the above verse. It’s translated into the English as “witness” and “testify.” The Greek root here is marturia, the Greek word from which we get our English word martyr. Now one of the principle definitions of a martyr is somebody who makes sacrifices or suffers greatly in order to advance a cause or principle.
At first, probably like you, I found myself scratching my head a bit. But with a little bit of thought it becomes perfectly clear. The great truth that our God has ever sought to explain and demonstrate, throughout history and the scriptures, is the principle of Love. Yet love always shines the brightest when it is tried. It’s seen in its fullness when it is tested. The greatest evidence of this reality is the Cross itself. It was part of Christ’s mission to suffer as much hatred and violence from human hands as His human nature could endure. And though, yes, many in history have suffered more physically than what Jesus suffered on the cross, the physical sufferings of God were not to appease some divinely held anger toward sinners! Rather, the physical sufferings of God, administered by our human hands, were for the purpose of revealing, testifying to us that God, having loved us, would ever love us to the end. Nothing, either demonic or human, could break His will and cause Him to let us go (Romans 8:35-39). Faced with abandoning us or all hope for Himself (Psalms 88:1-8), He would choose, with complete and utter self abandonment, to hold onto us and place us back on vantage ground. And “by His stripes, we are healed”! Notice, Isaiah’s emphasis is that Calvary would change us! God was not brought nearer to us. But rather, having us already in His heart, we would be drawn nearer to Him. Calvary was that God would dwell in our hearts, as we, from all eternity, had been in His.
Never had God’s love been seen as it was revealed at the cross. Selfless Love shines brightest when it’s tested and tried. And this is the reason, I believe, that we are all called to “martyrdom.” At some degree or another, we all are called to sacrifice to become a conduit of the self sacrificing, self abandoning, selfless love of Heaven. God is calling us, just as John was also called, to be not simply a recipient of Heaven’s kind of love, but also to be a channel through which that love can flow to this world in a tangible and measurable way. Not that any of us likes the idea of suffering anything! But love, without teeth, is simply romantic nonsense. Love, when it costs something and yet still loves, is a love with dimension—a love worthy of our heart and worthy of a life dedicated to the propagation of it’s principles, even if it should cost us to do so as well. There is something, or rather Someone, out there greater to live for than ourselves, isn’t there?
Something to ponder.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
I wish you God’s best this week.