Sacrifice. It’s not a popular word. It never has been and probably never will be. But to those who desire an authentic life, the kind of life that produces a story worth telling, sacrifice must become a way of life. Faith is the stuff heroes are made of.
This past weekend in America, we celebrated Memorial Day. We set aside a day to remember the fallen, those brave men and woman who served in our Armed Forces and gave their last measure of full devotion — but why did they do it?
I would suggest most did it because of what they believed to be true, most definitely in spite of what they saw, sensed, or felt. For readers of my new book A Story Worth Telling, that explanation should sound familiar — it is the very definition of faith.
I, for one, cannot fathom the courage required to step forward in the face of a hail of bullets. We sing about the rockets red glare, but I think most of us would curl up in a ball in the corner if those rockets actually started going off around us.
While doing research for a recent book project, I explored more about US Special Forces and their many accounts of courage in those intense battle conditions.
The sacrifices of these brave soldiers cause me to ask myself — what do I believe to be true with such passion that I would risk my life to live it out?
For most of us, I’m afraid the answer would be — not much. But our problem in Western Christianity is not so much a crisis of faith as it is a crisis of truth. We have fallen for the propaganda that truth is evolving, rather than fixed and transcending this brief historical moment. We do not see truth as a Person but as a commodity that shifts in value — like the price of oil.
And who would want to die for that?
We act as if reality could be negotiated to fit our desires. But the grave markers in Arlington say some beliefs are non-negotiable. The blood of the martyrs says some beliefs are worth dying for.
5 Key Questions to Identify Your Core Beliefs
- What core beliefs would I be willing to die for? Most of us Christians would say we would die for our faith in Jesus. And yet we run from inconvenience every day. We look the other way when our neighbor is in need. We remain silent in the face of cultural pressure. We put more money in our 401K than in the offering plate. Makes me wonder how serious we will be about our faith when we face real persecution. If we’re not taking risks for Christ when the risks are low, what makes us think we’ll do so in the face of true resistance?
- What do I believe to be true with such certainty that I would risk my life to live it out? Every day we use up a little bit more of the time we’ve been given. We offer it up for something we believe to be true. For some people it’s the pursuit of a business dream. For others it’s the opinion of others. Some live as if material wealth is all there is. Some live as if the love of family and friends is what makes life significant. Do the risks you take align with what you say you believe?
- What calling has God given me to pursue regardless of the cost? For many of us, it’s not that we don’t know what God wants us to do, we just don’t want to pay the price to live it out. Investing in our children may mean we pass up fun times with friends or opportunities to advance our careers. Stepping out to pursue a new life direction may mean facing ridicule or staring failure in the face — been there, done that. But if we believe God has called us to do something — and that calling is consistent with His purposes as revealed in Scripture — then we can stand on His promises no matter what the cost.
- What relationships are you cultivating to increase your ability to live by faith? A common theme amongst military veterans is that they take life-and-death risks not only because they believe in defending freedom, but also because they believe the person fighting next to them is worth dying for. Some call it camaraderie. We can think of it as community. For whom would you be willing to take a significant risk? Are you actively forming community around what you believe to be true, cultivating relationships with others who share your beliefs so you can be there for them — and they for you — when the going gets tough?
- What do the risks I am already taking reveal about the focus of my faith? Whether you acknowledge it or not, you take risks every day. You step out by faith with every breath you take. But are they risks worth taking? Is the time you are investing today advancing what you believe to be true or concealing your fear of stepping out before you know how it all turns out? Remember that the greatest risk you face is of a life left unlived. [See my post The Greatest Risk You Face Right Now. ]
Question: What do you believe to be true with such conviction that you would risk everything to live it out? What fears hold you back? Share your thoughts by clicking here.