If you watch the news for even a few moments, you realize that Christians around the world are hated. Public executions of Christians are becoming more frequent. And not surprisingly, many Christians are concerned and even terrified. Yet Jesus tells us to have a much different reaction in the face of possible martyrdom.
Jesus said: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 NASB) Indeed there are many enemies who might kill you. But Jesus specifically says not to fear them. Most of us would agree that this is easier said than done. Yet Jesus gives His people the ability to face death with courage. In that moment when we might expect to be most afraid, the Lord is with us and gives us a supernatural courage.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he faced the prospect of his own death. He wrote to Timothy saying: “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17) Even though every one else deserted Paul; the Lord stood with him. But eventually Paul was killed. In fact, eventually Paul was beheaded by the enemies of Christianity. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Christians have always been hated by the world. Jesus promised his followers that they would be hated and that many would be killed. But regardless of whether or not you die by martyrdom or by natural causes; this world is not your home either way. And you cannot live eternally in this life. So you better be prepared for the next one.
While Jesus said not to fear those who could kill the body; He did say there was one who you should fear. You should fear the one who has power over the eternal soul. You should fear God and submit to Him. You should live your life with holy reverence toward the Lord. Fear Him and not man.
Are you prepared to die? Are you prepared for eternity? Have you turned from your sin in repentance and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord? Are you following Him daily? If so you can expect hatred from the world. You might even be killed for your faith. But your soul is safe with Him. Don’t fear those who kill the body. Fear the Lord alone and trust Him with your future. No matter what the future holds.