I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
These words of Saint Paul have made a very powerful impression on me of late in light of the recent and ongoing persecution of Christians by ISIS. As I watch these tragic events unfold, I am challenged by the faith of those who have died for Christ. I must ask myself, “Am I willing to die rather than renounce my faith in Jesus Christ? Would I have the courage to withstand the pain?” I find myself praying for that courage, and hope the answer is “Yes.” I want the answer to be “Yes.”
But how do I get there? How do I gain the strength of the martyr? I don’t have to look far. In his very next sentence, St. Paul tells us how.
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. Roman 12:2
If I am to go willingly to my death, I must see that death the way God sees it. I find that the only way this is possible, or even desirable, is to have Christ on my mind and in my heart at every moment of the day. This means a lot of little “deaths” along the way. So often I drift off into the hectic world of my everyday responsibilities, and, just when I reach my wits end, I remember Christ. I see His face before me. I feel His love for me, and I want to love Him back.
I must see my work through the eyes of Christ. I must see my life as belonging to Christ. I must offer my body as a living sacrifice in everything I do. This must become a habit, my fallback position in moments of weakness. Only then, should the likes of ISIS decide to come to my home and seek me out, will I be able to die for my Jesus. I will see His face before me, and I will be willing to love Him the way He loved me on the cross.
When I am weak, then I will be strong.
Carmina Chapp is Associate Director of Online Theology Programs for Saint Joseph’s College Online.