I heard someone said, “You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.” Then I read the Book of Mark and tempted to alter that statement slightly to fit the death of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29 like this: “You’re not ready to live for Christ until you’re ready to die for Christ.” That is something that we all need to think about time and time again.
I remember when my senior asked me who my hero is, I answered without a pause, “John the Baptist!” I’m not sure exactly why I said something rash like that, but I was (and is) admired John’s boldness and fearless living. John boldly and publicly scolded Herod for his sinful involvement with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife by saying, “It isn’t right for you to marry your brother’s wife!” (Mark 6:18, GNB). Because of that Herod imprisoned John. On the other hand, Herodias “held grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not because of Herod. Herod was afraid of John because he knew that John was a good and holy man, and so he kept him safe. He liked to listen to him, even though he became greatly disturbed every time he heard him” (Mark 6:119-20). Herod have a divided heart, a love-hate relationship with John.
But in the end of this recap story by Mark, Herodias eventually succeeded in having John executed. How? Through Herod’s lush and speedy vow he made in front of his guests due to a seductive dance by a young woman a.k.a. his own step daughter! The request was easy and simple: “I want you to give me here and now the head of John the Baptist on a plate!” (Mark 6:25). The reason was also simple: because John was telling the truth. Truth hurt, telling the truth may kill you. Good bye John the Baptist…
Now, I don’t believe that every time we speak out for God and tell the truth we will end up with death sentence. Sometime we may risk our lives, sometime we may just be ignored. But nonetheless, like John the Baptist, we are not ready to live for Christ until we are ready to die for Christ. What if God asked you to put your life in the line by doing something like John? How would you respond? It’s not an easy topic to discuss because humanly speaking we treasured our lives more than Christ (especially, when you read this you’re at your comfortable place and perhaps a good life). It’s easy for me to say to God that I will walk with Him, talk with Him, read His Word and witness for Him, but it’s not easy, even for you, to say “Jesus, I’ll gladly die for you” and mean it.
Seriously, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we’re able to say and mean it or not, when we signed on as Jesus’ disciples, to follow Him rather than the world systems and religious, we’re signed for the Cross too (with that we also will have eternal life in Him). When we become Christians, true Christians – we are potential martyrs. Living for Jesus means that there is nothing more important than finding out what Jesus loves and hates, feeling and thinking, commands and joyfully obey. We probably, especially in Malaysia, might not experience death as a martyrs today like many Christians throughout the church history or like John the Baptist. But we should always be ready for the possibility (Just read the news). I’m thinking, what is the best way to be ready for the persecutions to come? This sentence from the beginning comes to mind: “You’re not ready to live for Christ until you’re ready to die for Christ.” We must be ready to live every day for Christ. This or never.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.