READ: Ecclesiastes 10, John 5, Revelation 21


A colleague was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. This man moved with his family to exalt Jesus among precious Libyans and was murdered as he jogged yesterday morning. For him there is the glorious presence of Jesus; for his friends and family there is the sting of death, sorrow, tears, and pain. Jesus alone has the power to kill death. The only one with the inherent power of an endless life promised us that one day there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, pain, night, anything that defiles, anything that profanes, or anything that deceives (Rev. 21:4, 25, 27). We live with the tension of very real pain, very present death in the now, and the promise that one day death will be vanquished. The question before the Church is whether or not it has the resolve to endure enough death that death might die.

Revelation makes it clear that there is an ordained amount of suffering and martyrdom. At some point the blood of the martyrs accumulates to a point where God’s wrath at evil complements His forbearing mercy and He puts an end to the beginning of history, and Jesus returns to kill death and usher in the fullness of life. By virtue of the fact that Jesus has not yet returned, it is clearly (if unpleasantly evident) that not enough people have died for Jesus yet. There are two options before the Church: Remove our missionaries from harm’s way or resolutely commit ourselves that Jesus is worthy enough to die for and back up that belief by continuing to send our loved ones to the peoples and lands that will slay them. We who are on the ground in volatile contexts are not concerned about our lot. We understand that at any moment we may be killed. What concerns us most is how our sending base and sending church will react. Do we have the steel in our spiritual spine to respond to the slaying of a loved one by sending ten more to take his or her place? The voices of caution will rise and shout: “Stop this needless waste! Deploy our workers to friendlier climes! Wait for lands to be at peace and for the peoples to cease raging!” Our sending agencies will face scorn and lawsuits, criticism and condemnation. Will they listen to the voices of “Christian” men and women, anguished fathers and mothers who call for the removal of Christ’s representatives in harm’s way? Will our leaders, will our churches stand around the coffins of the men and women they have commissioned and as they embrace uncomprehending children, determine in their heart that Jesus is worthy of more orphans?

Jesus hates death more than we do. That’s why He came to destroy it. But Jesus conquered death by dying. If we really want to see the end of death and the newness of all things good, we not only have to be willing to die for Jesus, we have to be willing to send those that we love to die for Him as well.

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