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Your love is better than life

“Convert or die!”

That’s the message Christians are being told in Iraq. It’s hard for disciples in the West (where the greatest threats to our faith largely come from within), to comprehend a real world situation such as this. Part of that is due to the fact that we have no frame of reference for understanding something like this—it’s not part of life as we know it. That’s not something that we have any control over.

The other reason I think we grapple to get our mind around situations like what’s going on in Iraq is that we don’t (usually) think of our faith in such ultimate (life-or-death) terms. That’s something we can and should do something about.

It’s my impression that most of us see our faith as something important, something that is good, right, and true—but not a matter of life or death. This represents a deficiency on our part because faith that isn’t perceived ultimately will always be lacking in intimacy. I’m not saying that we have to be in a situation like the disciples in Iraq face. I am saying that whatever our circumstances might be—prosperity or adversity, we need to view our following of Jesus as more important that life itself.

Does that sound radical? It shouldn’t. Jesus made this same point many times during His ministry (Luke 9:23ff;14:26ff). While we may not be required to give our lives as martyrs, we should nonetheless view our choice for Christ as being of the same order and magnitude!  (Remember, Romans 6 tells us that our before baptism is a resurrection, it’s a burial!).

This is where the book Revelation can be so helpful. More than other book of Scripture, we see Christians living in life-or-death circumstances.  When we walk among those for whom faith was a matter of the utmost urgency and intimacy, it does something very basic for us. It tunes our hearts and minds to seeing Christ not as One who makes our life better—but as the One who is our life (Colossians 3:4)!

Armed with such an attitude, we move to higher ground—the ground of overcoming. John will speak in Revelation 12 of those who triumphed over Satan because “they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (v. 11). David framed it another way, He said that God’s love was “better than life" (Psalm 63:3). We triumph when we live in the light of our Father’s love—come what may!

I’ve developed all of this in more detail in The Thrill of Hope. It’s a look at the book of Revelation and is scheduled to be published by Start2Finish books later this year and will be available through Amazon. More details to come!

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