February 24
Taking up a fatal cross
Jason Nelson

Polycarp (a.d. 69–155) may have been taught directly by John. He was an apostolic father who learned the faith from someone who learned the faith from Jesus. His Christianity wasn’t safe like mine is. It wasn’t practiced in the friendly confines of a nice church by reciting familiar liturgies. His trust in Christ’s sacrifice was fresh and intense, and every day he faced the likelihood he would have to make his own sacrifice. When he refused to burn incense to the emperor, he was burned at the stake. He was heard to say, “I bless you father for judging me worthy of this hour, so that in the company of martyrs I may share the cup of Christ” (Martyrdom).

We are horrified that Christians around the world are being forced to share the cup of Christ. They authenticate their trust in Jesus’ sacrifice by dying for him. They probably made a promise early in life that they would be willing to give up everything rather than deny their faith. I did too. The difference being, they knew it could mean a lot more than reluctantly rolling out of bed early on a Sunday morning.

It makes me wonder how committed to Christ I really am. Discipleship becomes real when the threats against following Jesus are serious. I know I’ve had it very easy. I hope a brutal captor would hear me say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).


Urgent goal for an urgent need!

Help reach a $116,000 goal by February 28 to reach a generation of young people who are disengaging from their faith . . . and are increasingly leaving the church.

And when you give today, we’ll send you the book More Than Enough to say thanks for helping share Jesus’ love with more young people. As you face circumstances in life that cause you to doubt and worry, the empowering truth from this book will remind you all over again of the greater reality that’s in your life. And that’s Jesus.

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