Bible Reading: Mark 6:14-29
If you want to be my follower you must love me … more than your own life. Luke 14:26
ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, January 8, 1956, five young men stood on the bank of a shallow river, staring into the dense foliage of the jungle. They searched for the faces of the notorious Auca Indians of remote Ecuador. For weeks the missionaries had flown their single-engine plane over the primitive river settlement, dropping gifts in hopes of establishing friendly contact with the Aucas that would lead to an opportunity to share the Gospel On the Friday before, an Auca man and two women had made a friendly visit to the missionaries’ camp. Now the men waited for a second face-to-face meeting with the Aucas.
Suddenly there was a flurry of activity in the undergrowth. Several Auca warriors attacked the defenseless missionaries. Within minutes the spear-punctured bodies of five young men lay motionless at the river’s edge.
The cruel death of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian in the Ecuadorian jungle was one of the most widely publicized news stories of the 1950s. Five selfless individuals-and the families they left behind-demonstrated that Christ’s great commission (see Mark 16:15) mattered more to them than their own lives. They were examples of Jim Elliot’s famous quotation, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The families of these men, by the way, continued working in Ecuador and eventually reached the Aucas for Christ.
Someone has said, “You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.” Alter this saying a bit to fit the example of John the Baptist in Mark 6: “You’re not ready to live for Christ unless you’re ready to die for Christ.” What if God asked you to put your life on the line by doing something like John the Baptist or the five missionaries did? How would you respond?
Whether you admit it or not, when you signed on as a follower of Jesus Christ, you signed on as a potential martyr. Living for Jesus means there’s nothing more important than finding out what Jesus wants for you and then doing it. For Jim Elliot and his co-workers, that meant sharing Christ with the Aucas until their ministry was abruptly ended by Auca spears.
Even though following Christ is a life-and-death commitment, you won’t likely be called on to experience death as a martyr. But you’ll be ready for the possibility if you live every day as close to Christ as possible.
REFLECT: Why would Jim Elliot and his four friends try to make contact with a tribe they knew was hostile?
PRAY: Ask God for courage to obey him even when it costs you everything.