Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Some see this as Paul stubbornly seeking martyrdom, but I can’t be at peace with that idea. As I see it, God had given Paul assurance of what He wanted him to do, and then He spoke through Agabus and others to test Paul’s obedience. Martyrdom wasn’t Paul’s goal, but it wasn’t something he shied away from. His commitment to Christ was complete, body, soul, and spirit, and he considered that what happened to him was God’s business, so long as he was being obedient. Having already been stoned to death once (Acts 14:19-20, 1 Corinthians 12:2-4) and seeing heaven for himself, he had no hesitation to return! That said, his goal wasn’t heaven itself, but rather to serve God. (Philippians 1:20-24) The Japanese have a term they use for what in English we call “commitment to full-time Christian service.” That term is kenshin, meaning to give your body, just as you would give money for an offering. I like the term, but I feel it’s something every believer should do, not just those God wants to be “professional Christians.” God has different jobs for each of us, but He wants each of us to be fully committed, dedicated, to Him. Our job description as far as the world is concerned could be just about anything at all, if we are morally and ethically upright. Paul was an apostle, but he was also a tent maker, which is a fairly mundane occupation. We are to be committed to Christ as he was, considering that every part of our life and being belongs to Him.
Of course this applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. God has gifted and called me as a teacher, but that doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, it just makes the rules a bit stricter for me. (James 3:1) I want to be as much of an example as Paul was, and that is a high bar indeed. I take great comfort in knowing that he was fully aware of his own imperfections, as I am. (Philippians 4:1) There are moments when I would be delighted if God would take me home to Himself, but like Paul, I know He still has work for me to do here. (Philippians 1:22-26) I am not to try to dictate to Him, to be in control, but rather rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, just as He has told me to do. This trip is a real test of that, because the total lack of routine keeps me somewhat on edge, but again as Paul said, I can do it through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Father, thank You for this reminder. This morning I was hit with the strong desire to be back in Omura, but the wedding which is the purpose of this whole trip is in two more days. What I am going through is a far cry from martyrdom! Help me fully receive the lessons You are teaching me so that I will grow as You intend, blessing those around me in the process, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!