As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Your Martyrdom

It's not a pleasant thought to contemplate being imprisoned and murdered for your faith. That thought has been on the minds of many Christians throughout history, and is presently on the minds of Christians in places such as India, China, Iraq and Iran. In the politically free world, our battles are only whether or not we may proselytize on a public sidewalk in front of a school, or whether the church may influence politics. In many countries, Christians meet in secret, fearing for their lives.

The death of John the Baptist is described in Matthew 14:1-12. Why did God allow such a faithful man to be murdered at the whim of a corrupt politician? Political corruption is commonplace. Our leaders are well known for taking bribes and labeling them as innocuous contributions or inducements of office. Many are also known for their sexual promiscuity. How should Christian leaders react to this? Should we keep silent?

John the Baptist did not keep silent, but publicly condemned Herod for his illicit marriage. He did not worry about having his tax status rescinded. There was not special tax status for prophets. He did not even worry about his own life. He was only concerned with doing the job of a prophet and that included condemning sin.

A prophet is simply a spokesman for God, and if he is to fulfill his job, he must speak God's mind whether or not that is politically acceptable, changes his tax status, or even condemns him to death. In being murdered, John the Baptist was following in the footsteps of many prophets before him.

Does God care about his servants? Jesus and most of his disciples also suffered death for their faith. From God's perspective death is not the worst enemy, because Jesus overcame death and in him, we also overcome death. God has fixed the death problem, but alienation from God is far worse. So we pity those who murdered John the Baptist far more than him.

This is the conundrum of faith. Those who murder believers are at that moment dead in their sins. The martyred faithful in Christ will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

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