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Martyrs

Obsessed with Death

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A visitor to church might have wondered what was going on yesterday. All Saints Sunday is somewhat of an unusual one, as we remember with joy the deaths of those saints who have gone before us. In churches around the world, we took time to list the names of church members who have died within the past year. We even sing in gory detail about the deaths of the saints of old:

They have come from tribulation And have washed their robes in blood,
Washed them in the blood of Jesus; Tried they were, and firm they stood.
Mocked, imprisoned, stoned, tormented, Sawn asunder, slain with sword…
(TLH 471, v 3)

A glorious band, the chosen few, On whom the Spirit came,
Twelve valiant saints—their hope they knew And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their necks their death to feel—Who follows in their train?
(LSB 661, v 3)

Nice thing to be singing about with the kids, isn’t it? Being stoned, sawn in half, eaten by lions, burned to death, beheaded… Yep. Nothing to see here, folks. Just an ordinary church service, singing about various ways to die. What is it about Christians, that we’re so obsessed with death?

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Modern Day Martyrs

Some were beheaded, some were tortured to death, others burned to death, some were crucified, others sentenced to receive 80 lashes.  Many of these things were done in public, as an example for all to see of the “dangers” of Christianity.  Who were these individuals?  The apostles, perhaps?  Most of them were martyred for their faith in Jesus.  That is true, but the examples I mention above come from an article written on December 9, 2013.  These are modern day martyrs, being killed for their faith in Jesus in our own day and age.  The title alone says it all: Christians are Being Burned Alive, Beheaded, Crucified, Tortured to Death & Imprisoned in Metal Shipping Containers, written by Michael Snyder for End of the American Dream.  According to Snyder, there are 100 million Christians currently facing persecution, and that about 100,000 Christians die each year for their faith in Christ.  That comes down to about 274 people each day, or about 11 every hour.  In the amount of time it will take me to finish this article, approximately 10 Christians will die somewhere in this world because of their faith.

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