Two Thursdays ago, eight Christian students were killed for their faith in a college campus shooting.
When I read about that tragic event in the headlines later, I realized that what surprised me the most was not that a gunman invaded the campus that morning. Certainly, that was an awful thing to do.
But I was more surprised that in the face of certain death, there were still eight students who chose to stand up for Christ that day. There were eight people who knew what would happen if they declared Jesus.
Eight people who were unafraid to face death.
Eight people who would still be alive today if they had chosen to deny Christ.
But they stood up anyway.
Headlines like that rock our Christian comfort zones, don’t they? Do they make you feel anxious? Relieved? Motivated? Scared?
Rebelutionary, are you afraid of death?
If you don’t like your answer to that question, read on. Here are four reasons why I think Christians shouldn’t fear death.
1. We have an eternal hope.
We are not lost. We are not hopeless. Death is not the end for us. If our God has truly defeated death, what do we have to fear?
First John 4:18 says, “[God’s] love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.”
What does it say to a world in need when Christians cower at the thought of death, the very thing we say we’re freed from by eternal life?
In Isaiah 51:12, God says, “I, yes I, am the One who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear?”
Fear shows that we don’t fully trust God’s plan when it involves things that scare us or make us feel uncomfortable.
2. Heaven is our heart’s desire.
You’ve probably seen cartoons where characters in heaven float around on clouds, play harps, and look bored all the time.
Or you might picture heaven as a somber place full of frowning angels where God scowls and judges the world all day.
Both pictures are way off. Heaven was made by God to be the paradise of the soul.
Revelation 21:3-4 says, “He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Heaven was designed to be the fulfillment of all we could ever want: peace, love, hope, purpose, fellowship, worship, and, most importantly, constant face-to-face interaction with God.
3. God is keeping score.
When Christians are persecuted for their faith, God notices. He doesn’t turn His head and just let it happen.
He watches. He strengthens them through their trials. And when their lives are over, He receives them into heaven with open arms and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are those who die in the Lord … for they will rest from their hard work; their good deeds follow them.”
And not only does God reward those who stand for Him, He also judges their persecutors. In Revelation 22:12, God says, “I am coming soon … to repay all people according to their deeds.”
God is just, and He will avenge those who die for His Name.
4. Death is a powerful witness.
These students and other martyrs’ deaths sometimes witness louder than any other actions could. The fact that those eight people valued Christ more than their lives has struck a chord in this nation.
All over social media, hashtags like #PrayforOregon and #IAmAChristian are going viral. Blog posts, articles, and videos inspired by the incident are calling Christians to get real in their faith and stand up for Christ.
Stories of unashamed teenagers like those who died at Umpqua can spark a reaction in the lives of both believers and nonbelievers alike. Willingly laying down your life for Christ speaks volumes in a world where protecting yourself first is a priority.
Death for a Christian is not hopeless. It is the joyful fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. It is the beginning of a new life with Christ forever. It is the doorway to absolute satisfaction in God.
Is that scary? Have we just swallowed the world’s concept that death is frightening without really evaluating what it means for us?
Seriously, what about death should make a Christian afraid?
Those eight students probably felt frightened as they stood up for God that Thursday morning. Yet they were brave enough to act anyway—despite their feelings.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it,” Nelson Mandela said. What about you? Will you chose to stand for God, even when your belief might cost you?
Christian, are you afraid of death?
This is such a thoughtful, eye-opening article, Sarah. You have a way with words, my friend! Thank you for sharing this with us 🙂
“Death is not the end for us. If our God has truly defeated death, what do we have to fear?”
Thanks so much, Haylie! 😄
This was extremely interesting to read. Often some of us don’t realize that these things do happen and it is really really inspiring that these students can stand up so strongly for their faith in the face of death.
*gasp* A fellow Whovian! This is fantastic! 😉
I am homeschooled as well
Doctor Who is my life.
Ha I bet! Clara… :'(
Don’t spoil it for me! I know she dies, but I’m in Season 7 right now.
Interesting. I was just thinking and writing about this topic yesterday. Sometimes I think, well if you kill a christian, no matter how wrong and terrible it is, you will be doing wrong to their friends and family, but they’ll be in heaven so….. it’s hard to put to words, but it’s almost as if you’re giving that person a free ticket to heaven.
Exactly! Great thoughts, Olivia! =)
Great article, but please don’t quote Nelson Mandela. He’s just not someone that Christians should quote as a role-model/good example/world hero, cuz he ain’t. If you don’t believe me, do some reading about his life that was written by people who don’t worship him (sorry, as someone living in South Africa where Mandela is deified, this is sort of a sore point, especially if you remember all the people he murdered).
Sorry Sarah–I didn’t realize you’re thirteen (the important events of Mandela’s life all occurred before your birth, so sorry for being so hard you). P.S. I’m a fellow Texan and homeschooler too =vD
Hi, Louis. I have studied about Mandela, and I definitely don’t agree with many of the things he said and did. I just liked how he expressed that idea in his quote. However, I definitely don’t look up to him. Thank you for pointing out your concerns. 🙂
Hi, Sarah! Like I said; I apologize for the way I stated my initial comment. It was the result of me being tired of hearing how Americans glorify that African terrorist (usually because they’re only told one side of the story–Mandela’s side). =vD Thanks!
Hey Sarah:) Thank you for writing. It’s beautiful to really think about our new life with God when we die an earthly death. I’m not going to lie though, I’m still scared:) I’ve always been afraid of dying for my faith and dying in general. I’m just uncertain. And right now I’m doubting a lot of things, my faith in Christ included. Could I ask you to pray for me? Thank you:)
I agree Kate. I’m still afraid and I have doubts too. I will certainly pray for you if that is alright. And could you pray for me too?
Of course I’ll pray for you:) As my youth pastor says “Doubt is perfectly normal and ok, unexpressed doubt is not.” Never be afraid to doubt, just make sure you make it known to someone:) Wrestle through tough questions! It’s what we’re made for!
Thank you so much Kate!
Of course I will, Kate! 🙂 Don’t worry, all of us have doubts sometimes. God will give you the strength to face death unafraid. Check out Matthew 10:28. Know you are in my prayers!
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me:)
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
It’s pretty much a personal policy that I have to upvote a comment that’s all scripture, if I don’t then I need to fix something. 😁😁
Sarah, I just LOVE IT! I have always been afraid of death but your article made me look at my fear in a different way. And it will also help me fight against my fear. So thank you so much.
I’m glad it encouraged you, Clare! 😀
Thanks do much for this Sarah! You have a really neat writing style, and your points were dead on.
Thank you! 🙂
Wow. Just wow. I love how the Rebelution always has stuff like this. Just yesterday I was pondering martyrs and death and stuff and wow. Isn’t it great when God works like that?
Yes…just yes. A friend of mine said it might be good for the church to experience persecution in America actually, that we are living in an “American bubble.” My biggest problem with heaven and “no fear of death” is head knowledge vs. heart knowledge. In my head I understand we should not be afraid of death, but in my heart i’m terrified. Definitely with all that’s happening around the world, it’s hitting close to home. In heaven there will be no tears, no pain, no persecution. Our church’s retreat was this weekend and we focused on heaven. The biggest thing for me was the idea of keeping your focus on heaven, keeping God and Heaven as the most important thing. Maybe then death isn’t such a big deal…think of what’s coming- not what is! Thanks for writing this Sarah!! God Bless.
You’re welcome, Julia! I’m so glad it inspired you to focus on the eternal vs. the temporary- “think of what’s coming, not what is!” Awesome thoughts!
Michael W. Smith wrote a song called “This is Your Time” about a girl who was asked if she was a Christian and then shot. (There’s also a book about her, She Said Yes. It really amazes me to hear stories like hers and like the people in Oregon recently. I am naturally afraid of death–I think it’s human nature; we have self-preservation instincts–but when I think about the hope I have, I’m not as scared.
Thanks for sharing this, Sarah!
Cassie’s story has always inspired me! She was so brave.. A great example of how Christians should respond to death. I’m glad you liked it, Amanda! 🙂
Hi, everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I recently started a blog! You can read it here: thegreatreflection.blogspot.com 🙂 Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think! I’m also looking for guest authors, so if you’re interested, you can find my contact info on the “About” page. Thanks!
It was my privilege to sing Brahms’ German Requiem in a wonderful choir recently. The 2nd movement starts off with a funeral march, and ends with a triumphant and heavenly passage that repeats “ewige Freude, ewige Freude… ” (everlasting joy).