What do you think of when you hear the name Joan of Arc? Do you think peasant, woman, young, someone who heard from God, someone who heard from a saint, someone who called out the dauphin of France though he was dressed as a peasant????…. Or do you think martyr!!
There are still martyrs today around the world. Standing in their faith for Jesus Christ. We think of martyrs as beheaded, burned at the stake, crucified, eaten by lions, or walled up alive. In first world countries thankfully these types of martyrs no longer exist. We can think back in history where they did, but no longer, thank God. Yet, today I want to really look at the definition of martyr and how that may apply to first world countries. It may not look the same and yet the meaning behind it is the same.
We can read about martyrs, not so long ago, being burned at the stake for carrying a bible. Bibles were only allowed to be written in Latin and only the clergy was allowed to read it. The laity was told they would not be able to understand nor were they holy enough to touch the bible. This is a far cry from the times of Jesus’ first apostles when the letters were read out loud to all that wanted to listen.
Thankfully, here in first world countries, we no longer see people tied to wood piles and set on fire but we do see people martyred in a very underhanded insidious manner that is covered up with don’t speak ill of the church or the clergy/pastors of the church. This is just as bad as when a perpetrator tells the victim, “Don’t say anything or …”. It is time for the rugs to come off, uncover and bring to light what is underneath, for healing and health.
So you might ask, “Do you know any martyrs today?” Here is the definition of martyr:
- a person who is killed or suffers greatly for a religion, cause etc.
What I have seen happen over the last several months would turn most people’s stomachs. Is it just as bad as watching people burned at the stake? I don’t know. I do know that it is appalling because it reeks of purposeful destruction. It has its own distinct disgusting stench. Friendships lost, families torn-division; shunning; lies; trying to ruin people’s lives and even their livelihoods. This is never of God, ever. What this is and always has been is someone or a group wanting control. Look through history and you can see what caused martyrdom was a need to have control by any means necessary. Today though, at least in first world countries, it is frowned upon to kill people to have control; so deliberately lying and using fear as a tactic to try and ruin people’s lives seems more acceptable???
People have told me many times…..you will be persecuted just as Jesus was…and even by those in the church. Okay fine…yes we will….we deal with people. Yet, isn’t it also just as important not to hide these very things? Isn’t it just as important that we have an open dialog to bring health and healing in places that are sick? There has never been a problem solved by covering it up. The problem MUST come into the light and be looked at with eyes wide open. To hear all sides of the story with open and honest dialogue with a desire to seek what God is saying.
It is time for the individuals in the church to stand up and say either we are part of the problem or part of the solution. It is time to look at what goes on inside the four walls of some churches and not allow these destructive things to occur. For this to happen, Christians must choose to be open and forth coming, and understand we ALL walk in God’s grace and forgiveness. Once we truly understand this, people will not be afraid to uncover the things that have been done to them, what they have done or agreed with which has caused people to be martyred at the hands of those that are in a position of authority, otherwise known as spiritual abuse. The only way for freedom for ALL involved is to uncover and confront those who are abusing. This must be done with a heart of love so it can bring health and healing. The same steps that are used in a secular intervention needs to be used in these situations. A true desire to change (repentance) would need to occur to bring health and healing to all involved.
So, I had asked the question,”if I know martyrs today”. Today I could stand up and say, Yes! I have seen whole families shunned, lied about, cut off, friendships divided, families trying to be divided, businesses shunned, jobs lost all in the Name of Christ. Yet, that doesn’t sound very Christ like to me. These martyrs, that I know, have only chosen to do what is right and DID NOT choose division. They chose love, to not be controlled and would not bend to threats to do otherwise. These are the martyrs I see today in first world countries.
Maybe you have been in a hurtful situation at church. I highly recommend the book Toxic Faith. This book describes in greater detail what parts we have played and how to heal in these circumstances.