Ignatius of Antioch was the 2nd or 3rd bishop in the city. Tradition states that he might have been a disciple of Jesus and/or appointed by Peter to serve in Antioch. Ignatius spent his time writing letter to churches throughout the Roman Empire, particularly about Christian unity in the midst of rising sects such as Ebionism and Gnosticism. He also wrote about martyrdom, specifically his martyrdom.
Ignatius was arrested for not honoring the emperor and sentenced to die in the Coliseum as food for wild beasts. We church folk don’t like to hear this kind of stuff, but torture, ridicule, and persecution was the norm of Christianity in that day. Ignatius was martyred around the year 117 AD.
Today Christians in China, Sudan, Indonesia, and many others face this same day-to-day environment…all for their faith. This truth challenges the heart of Western Christians. Would you be willing to die for the faith? Before you give me your Sunday School answer, really think about this one. Place yourself at the scene. Would you die for Jesus’ sake? I hope this question bothers you.
In Matthew 16:25 Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” This concept is known as dying to self. It may or may not mean to accept martyrdom, but it does mean to give up control. The Christian is no longer their own master. You may have seen or heard of people who can’t swim well begin to freak out when they’re put in water. In their panicky attempt to stay above water, they actually prevent themselves from being rescued. In terms of faith, often we attempt to “self preserve” by flailing our arms just to stay above water and survive, doing all that we can as if we are in control. In so doing we may actually prevent ourselves from truly encountering Christ and allowing him to save us. So here’s the question…
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO “DIE TO SELF?”