In my never ending search for Christian bands I can actually get excited about listening to, I have recently come across a gem from Northern Ireland called Rend Collective Experiment. They are a worship band that have indie folk roots that remind the listener of such bands as Mumford and Sons or the Lumineers. I have found many quality Christian bands out there whose lyrics are glorifying to God and also have a different enough sound for me to enjoy. However, it is rare to find a worship band that doesn't sound like every other worship band out there. Now I understand that worship is about Christ and not myself, so I don't mind listening to and worshiping with most worship bands out there, I simply enjoy finding a refreshing new sound. As I was listening to the new album by Rend Collective Experiment, I was singing along with a song called the Cost. Here's a link to this song:
As I was singing, a certain lyric struck me. The line says, "I'll chase you through the pain, I'll carry my cross, cause real Love is not afraid to bleed." This line hit me hard. You see, for me, maybe its just that I'm young, but the thought of dying doesn't scare me all that much. If you add in the possibility that I may be a martyr for Jesus, I'm rushing forward ready to cut some ears off. (See John 18:10) However, put a needle anywhere near me, and I huddle in the corner like a cockroach without an escape route.
Why is it that we are afraid of pain but not death? A possible answer for that is that we have all experienced pain, but none of us have experienced death. Therefore, we can be afraid of pain because we know it is unpleasant but we don't really know what death is like because we have not personally experienced it. However, I think it is possibly because we are selfish in that we don't want to deal with the after effects of an unpleasant situation. So if we die, instead of live in pain, the situation is over for us and we don't have to deal with the aftermath.
So when I heard this line, it was odd to me, because I guess I was expecting, "Real Love is not afraid to die." Think about the heroes we deify in movies: Maximus Aurelius, William Wallace, Qui-Gon Jinn, Simon Birch, Anty from Honey I Shrunk the Kids (I hope someone remembers the sacrifice of Anty as I do). In our culture, the highest honor someone can have is to die for their cause. Even though I agree that this should be, because all of these characters (even in the fictional realm) deserve respect for their sacrifice. However, I think our culture misses the importance of LIVING for one's cause.
As Christians, we have been warned that our lives will not be easy. 1 Peter 4:13 says, "But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." There are many more examples of when the scriptures tell us of the hardships that await the devoted Christ follower. To me, it would be much easier if when we became Christians, we instantly charge in to whatever evil is out there and die screaming "JEEEEESSSSUUUUUUUSSSSSSS!!!!!' However, that is not what Jesus calls us to do. Jesus calls us to live a life that is glorifying to His will. Many times, living a life like that hurts.
Am I ready to bleed for Jesus? Am I ready to live the next 50 years of my life in a prison in North Korea because I tried to bring them the Gospel? Am I ready to be beaten in Pakistan because I shared the Love of Christ with my neighbor? Am I ready to love the people in my church who are judgemental towards others? Am I ready to tell people I'm a follower of Jesus when the people around me don't think it's cool? Sometimes, I don't think so. Paul was the perfect example of how this type of life should be lived. In Philippians 1:20-24, Paul writes, "20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you." Paul understood, more than most, that living the life Jesus has called us to is not easy. Paul was stoned and lived, imprisoned multiple times, shipwrecked, mistrusted, and eventually killed. Paul knew from the beginning that his life would have been much easier, and he even sometimes wanted, if death had come sooner. However, Paul did what was really honorable: not simply dying for Christ, but living for him.
I pray that the followers of Christ are ready to die, but more importantly live, for Him.