Most parents have dreams for their children. We want them to live a good life, have a family, make an honest living, and most importantly know the Lord. If you could look into the future and see your children would die a violent death, certainly it would be upsetting. Yet what if that death was one of martyrdom? What if they were killed for being committed to Jesus Christ?
There was once a man named John who had not one, but two sons crucified for being Christians. This “John” is probably the least known in the Bible. He wasn’t John the Baptist. Nor was he John the Apostle. He was John, the father of two fisherman brothers, named Peter and Andrew. (see Mark 1:16)
Certainly the most significant death in world history was the death of Jesus Christ. His crucifixion paid the eternal price for all those who would turn to him in repentance and faith. When we turn to Christ our lives are eternally changed for the good; but our suffering in this sinful world often increases. Jesus promised that all those who followed him would suffer persecution to some extent. Not surprisingly many of his followers in the New Testament church suffered violent deaths for their faith in him.
Jesus made a reference to how Peter would die when he told him: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” (John 21:18-19 NASB)
Peter would eventually be crucified. Though church tradition says he requested to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as Christ. Likewise, church tradition says that Andrew was also eventually crucified on an “X” shaped cross.
The world would look at John’s sons as losers, executed by the government as religious zealots. Yet in reality, what greater honor could there be than to be so known for your love for Jesus that the world kills you for it? John’s boys loved Jesus. They followed Jesus. They died like Jesus. And today they live eternally with Jesus. Will the same be true of you?
As sinners we are born as enemies of God. The only way to know him and be reconciled is through God’s son Jesus Christ. We must turn from our sin in repentant faith and follow Christ forever. This will mean suffering. It might mean martyrdom. But it also means eternal life. So fear not. Your days on earth might very well end as John’s sons did. But your time in Heaven, in the presence of Christ, shall never end. Your suffering will be over, and your joy will be complete.
Are you a “Sunday morning Christian?” A “Sunday morning Christian” is someone who goes to church and puts on a show every Sunday morning, then goes out and lives much differently the rest of the week. Every town has them. Every church encounters them. And deep down, every church attender knows if they are one.
In Jesus’ day he dealt with a group of people very similar to “Sunday morning Christians” who were called Pharisees. He said they were “white washed tombs” who looked good on the outside but were inwardly rotten. He frequently called them hypocrites for trying to look righteous in front of people, but actually being wicked in their hearts. So what might Jesus say of you?
Is the Christian character that you show on Sunday morning the same character that you exhibit Monday thru Saturday? Would your friends at church be shocked to hear how you talk at work or school? Would your friends at work or school be shocked to hear that you claim to be a Christian? And most importantly, what would God, who knows all and sees all, say of you?
You see, the sad reality of “Sunday morning Christians” is that they are not really Christians at all. Phony Christians who specialize in Sunday morning charades are very similar to the Pharisees that Jesus condemned, and to the false prophets that Jesus spoke of in his day saying: “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:18-20 (NASB)
Another common trait of “Sunday morning Christians” is that when confronted with an article like this one, they immediately grow defensive and begin to point the finger at others, rather than examining themselves. I ask you to avoid doing this. And in all honesty before God, examine your life, test your heart, and truthfully ask yourself if you are a “Sunday morning Christian.” If so, there is hope. Some “Sunday morning Christians” have been changed by God’s grace into genuine Christians. They’ve repented and placed their faith in Christ and now follow Him every day, including Sunday. But there are others who have gone to the grave living the lie. Today they are in Hell, and all hope is forever gone. May this never be said of you. If you’re a phony Christian, repent before it’s too late. You might fool your friends at church. You might fool your pastor. But rest assured, you’ll never fool God.