Monday, January 5, 2009

Martyr's dissonance

I don't understand how one minute we can revere Christian martyrs, and the next minute hold to an ideology of violent self-defense.

Take Jim Elliot for example. He's famously quoted saying, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." This is a great quote, and we can apply it to life's temporal things, but also to your very life. Elliot did give his own life for the Kingdom of God. It is also a distant echo of Christ's very words, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25, 26)

But what kind of legacy would Jim Elliot have left if he were to have violently resisted his Waodani killers? If he were to have engaged in the warfare of this world, what kind of witness would that have been?

You might say, "But he was a missionary." But we are all missionaries. We are ambassadors for Christ every day. We are emissaries for the Kingdom of God, every last one of us. Special rules don't apply to a select group of us.

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