“Sir, let me explain how I see this issue. Your supreme weapon is killiing. My supreme weapon is dying. Here is how it works. You know that my sermons on tape have spread all over the country. If you kill me, those sermons will be sprinkled with my blood. Everyone will know I died for my preaching. And everyone who has a tape will pick it up and say, ‘I’d better listen again to what this man preached, because he really meant it: he sealed it with his life.’ So, sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder than before. I will actually rejoice in this supreme victory if you kill me.”
Later, Tson found out another officer said, “We know that Mr. Tson would love to be a martyr, but we are not that foolish to fulfill his wish.”
Tson: “I stopped to consider the meaning of that statement. I remembered how for many years, I had been afraid of dying. I had kept a low profile. Because I wanted badly to live, I had wasted my life in inactivity. But now that I had placed my life on the altar and decided I was ready to die for the gospel, they were telling me they would not kill me! I could go wherever I wanted in the country and preach whatever I wanted, knowing I was safe. As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it.”
“As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it.”
I think all of us are presented with precisely the same issue as Joeseph Tson. We’re afraid of dying, not a physical death, but a social one. We’re afraid if we sell out for Jesus Christ we’ll lose friends, or at the very least, suffer embarrassment. But in the end, we have the same choice as Tson. We can keep a low profile, and waste our life with inactivity for Christ, or we can place our life on the altar, and decide we’re ready to die for Him.
The thing is, like Joseph Tson, once you decide you’re ready to die, socially speaking in your case and mine, for Christ, once you just let go of your social life saver, you’re free! I’ve experienced this myself and observed it in others. It turns out your fear of social death is in your head. Yes there’ll be some awkwardness during the transition, but tell me what transition is without awkwardness! And tell me of anything in life worthwhile that doesn’t require transition!
Like Joseph Tson, you’ll be amazed at the freedom you enjoy, once you decide to place your life on the altar. Once you give yourself over to Christ.
So don’t be afraid of dying.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
-Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:25
[Image via Klearchos Kapoutsis – Creative Commons]
Resources and related articles::
Joseph Tson is the former president of The Romanian Missionary Society in Wheaton, IL. He was the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania until 1981, when he was exiled by the Romanian government.
Source: ToEveryTribe.com, fall 2009 Newsletter