I literally thank God we do not live in such a cruel culture. There was nothing painless and humane about their deaths.
Why such horrible deaths? It was because of their faith and teachings. The teachings believed to be heresy were that only persons who had individually trusted Christ as Savior should be baptized and only they should partake of the elements in observing the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist.
A question for each of us is on a scale of one to 10, how do our conviction and dedication compare?
In our PC culture, in this era of no-absolutes, dedication and consistency cry for exemplars. Who will dare to model their faith? At a time people prefer to be cool rather than committed modern devotees can expect to be criticized, ostracized and despised. None of these are desired treatments. They are painful to experience. Yet, daily there are young, mature and older people who suffer such abuse because of their faith and faithfulness.
It happens all to often in our convoluted culture that has been described as being like a store front window in which some person has changed the price tags making the valuable items look cheap and the cheap items valuable. The values have been changed.
An interesting exercise is to write your core values. List several topics and then one by one write what you believe about each topic and why. Next write what you can expect for adhering to your belief. That will help prepare for what the reaction might be. Finally, ask yourself what price you are willing to pay to defend your core values. Where is your getting off point?
I have a friend who heads one of the nation’s largest Christian biker organizations called “Hell Fighters.” They have a procedure they call “Proving your mud.” I don’t know why the name. The purpose is to ensure each member not only knows what he or she believes, but why. They get in one another’s face and shout the difficult questions posed to Christians and demand to know what they believe and why. It is not to intimidate or be unkind, but to help each member be able to defend his or her beliefs under pressure.
Suppose one of the Hell Fighters was pressing you right now to “Prove your mud.” Could you?
The Scripture urges believers to be ready to answer those who question them. Study to show yourself a workman approved to God. That should be in civil affairs also. One of the primary challenges facing America is educating a large segment of our population that is ignorant of how our government operates, what the Constitution provides and how the free enterprise system works. Above all, to be able to articulate your faith.
Resolve to be able to prove your mud. Michael and Margaretha did at great cost to them.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. For copies of previous columns visit www.nelsonprice.com