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Fear not those who kill the body but can't kill the soul

  | SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images

Persecution of those who believe in Christ is deepening all over the world while deadly threats to Christians are alarmingly increasing. Many of us are now afraid to be identified as “Jesus' people” for fear of being killed. In Nigeria, Christian communities are constantly attacked, and many have been killed for their faith in Christ.

This has created fear in us to the extent that the frontiers of the Gospel are now retreating. Many who were killed never knew that it was coming.

We need to be reminded that what we are experiencing today has been foretold by Christ: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Mathew 10:28).

We are supposed to have conquered the fear of death for the sake of Christ, but earthly fear often prevents us from achieving this goal.

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Death is a necessary end, whether for the sake of Christ or due to ailment, accident or other causes. An understanding that Christians are now endangered species in some countries will cause us to have sober reflection and ponder if this persecution is restrictive or expansive. Every Christian should bear in mind that to die for Christ is gain.

Fear of persecution and martyrdom has been weaponized by the enemy to stop the advancement of the Gospel and to force us to compromise biblical standards. Shall we continue to fear because of the rage of the enemy, or should we summon the courage and boldly declare our faith and preach the Gospel no matter the dangers?

The probability that we will be either persecuted or killed for our faith is, sadly, very high these days. If we simply learn to accept that, we will be willing to give our lives for the sake of the Gospel even more freely.

Dying and suffering for the sake of Christ is a victory of the Spirit over the flesh. Christ was victorious because He was obedient unto death even when His flesh was weak. As Christ's followers, we can not do less because it is a privilege to reciprocate to Him what He did for us. The global war on Christians these days calls for sober reflection on our readiness to be martyred. This does not sound pleasant, but it is inevitable. Preparation and readiness to go through torture even unto death is non-negotiable.

Some Christians, out of ignorance, criticized those who were ready to be killed for the sake of Christ as being careless. Some of them were accused of being overzealous and fanatical. John Chau and Jim Elliot were seen as men without wisdom for risking their lives for Christ. Reverend Lawan Andimi was beheaded in Nigeria by Boko Haram for refusing to deny Christ.

In counties like Nigeria, Afghanistan and North Korea, Christians are persecuted and killed at an alarming rate. Even in countries where visible persecution of Christians is not recorded, Christians living there are presently experiencing intimidation on a daily basis.

“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).

Whether we anticipate it or not, it is likely that some of us will be killed simply because we are Christians. If we are willing and obedient unto death, we will get the reward which Christ promised us (Revelation 2:10). But only if we endure to the very end!

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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