1 Corinthians 4:9-16
9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:18-21
18Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
I write this to you today to remind you of my past. I have been homeless for standing up for the Lord. I have been beated and made a fool of for my belief in Christ.
Many people never thought that persecution and martyrs could be found in America.
It is coming.......
Here is an example of such an American martyr.
In the aftermath of the horrific massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, it is difficult to look beyond the pain. It seems almost disrespectful to the victims to try to see any good coming from this awful crime, but God has a way of mining jewels of hope out of the depths of even the most senseless tragedy. The testimony of Cassie Bernall is one such jewel.
Cassie was only seventeen, but even at that tender age, she had become a source of inspiration to her peers. Classmates say she was well-known for always bringing her Bible with her to school. The "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet she wore was more than mere ornamentation for Cassie--it was her way of life. In a video shown at Cassie's funeral, she can be heard to say that her goal was to get rid of all hypocrisy, and truly live out her faith. Cassie achieved her goal--in a way that none of us can truly comprehend.
Two teen gunmen stormed Cassie's school, showing no mercy. Many have speculated as to the killers' motives and methods. Many victims were atheletes, but some were not. We will never really know why Cassie was chosen to die. Perhaps they knew of her reputation. Perhaps her bracelet caught their attention. What we do know is that when they came to her, they found her hiding beneath a table, praying. She was saying, "God, why is this happening? I just want to go home." A widely circulated story tells that one of the murderers asked her "Do you believe in God?" Reportedly she replied, "There is a God...and you should follow his path."*
In a way, Cassie's prayer was answered in an instant, for now she is truly home. But she did not die in vain.
As news of her faith reached the media, the true impact of her passing began to materialize. As a result of her death, the story of her faith was bounced off satellites and broadcast around the globe. Countless newspapers and magazines have reprinted her story, and literally
hundreds of millions of people have heard of her courage and faith in God.
I praise God for Cassie Bernall. Whether or not the story of her proclamation is accurate, I still believe she truly embodied the words of the Apostle Paul, "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."(Phil.1:21) But along with Cassie there were many others, I'm convinced, who would have made that declaration. The pages of history are punctuated with the blood of courageous thousands who boldly professed their faith in God in the face of great danger and even certain death. Why? Are Cassie and the others just "fanatics?" The explanation is simple: Jesus is real. Cassie knew it in her heart. And I know it too.
Cassie was prepared to go, and today she rests in the arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you ready? If you had been staring down the barrel of the shotgun instead of Cassie, what would your response have been? When Cassie went to school that morning, she could not have imagined that she was living her last day on earth. Give your life to Jesus today. There may be no tomorrow.