Living Martyrs.
This true-hearted burning man of the deserts came for a witness. Here we strike one of John's great words. You remember the three things that witness means? that you know something; that you tell what you know; and that you tell it most with your life. And telling it with your life means, not only by the way you live, but, too, even though the telling of it may cost you your life. It came to mean all of that with this witness.

It came to mean that with a new fullness of meaning, a peculiar significance, to the great Witness, of whom John told. This was the very throbbing heart of the wooing errand. This explains the tenderness and tenacity of the Lover in His wooing in the midst of intensest opposition, and in spite of it.

The opposition brought about the terrific grouping of circumstances which the great Lover-witness used as the tremendous climax of both wooing and witnessing. No one doubts the reality of Jesus' witness to the Father's love before men. And no one, who has had any touch at all with Him, doubts the tremendous pull upon one's heart of such a wooing appeal as that Calvary climax of witnessing made, and makes.

And this, mark it keenly, is still the plan. "The-same-came-for-witness" is meant to be true of each follower of the Christ. This is to be the dominant underchording of all our lives. This is to be the never-absent motive gripping us, and our possessions and our plans. The rest is incidental in a true life.

It may be a "rest" that takes most of the waking hours with most of us, most of our strength and thought. But there's an undercurrent in every life. And the undercurrent is the controlling current. It makes us what we really are. It may be quite different from the upper current controlled by the outer necessities of circumstances. And with the true Jesus-man this is the undercurrent, this thing of witnessing.

Do you know something of Jesus? Do you know the cleansing of His blood? Do you know the music of His peace in your heart? Do you know a bit of the subtle fragrance of His presence? Do you know the power of His Name when temptations come, when the road gets slippery, and your feet go out from under you -- almost. Then His Name, its power, and you hold steady. Do you know something about such things?

Then tell it. This is the plan -- telling. It's a Gospel of telling. Tell it with your lips tactfully, gently, boldly, earnestly. But tell it far more, and most with your life. Let what you are, when you're not thinking about this sort of thing, let that tell it. That's the greatest telling, the best.

And, softly, now, when you get to the end of telling what you know, listen quietly, don't go to digging into books for something to tell your class or the meeting or the crowd. Don't do that. Books have their place, good books, but it's always a sharply secondary place, or third, or lower down yet. Poor crowd that must be fed on retailed books worked over! Don't do that. Know more. Know Jesus better. Trust Him more fully. Risk more on following where He clearly leads. Then you can tell more and better.

Sometimes I'm asked, "How can I have more faith?" Well, not by thinking about your faith. Not by books or definitions chiefly, however they may help some. I can tell you how: Follow where the Master's quiet voice is clearly calling. Go where it is plain to you that that pierced hand is leading.

"Ah! but the way is a bit narrow," you think. "And it's steep. There are sharp-edged stones under foot. And those bushes are growing rank on both sides narrowing the path. And thorns scratch and hurt and sting. This other road where I am now -- this is a good Christian road. My Christian brothers are here. I'd rather stay here."

And so you stay. You don't say "no" to the calling voice. You simply act "no." No wonder you get confused and tangled. It's only in the path of following clear leading that there comes sweetest peace, with no nagging doubts and mental confusion. There only will you have more faith, know more of Him, touch with whom is the realest faith. And so only will the witness be told out to the crowd on the street of your life, of the power and satisfying peace of this Jesus.

This is the witnessing we're sent to do. And the crowds crowd to listen, when it's given. This is the way the Witness did. He followed the clear Father-voice, though the road led straight across the regular roads through thorn hedges and thick underbrush. Should not the servant tread it still?

The word that John uses here underneath our English word witness is the word from which our English word martyr comes. And martyr has come to mean one who gives his life clear out in a violent way for the truth he believes. But, do you know, that is easy. "Easy?" You say, "Surely not, you're certainly wrong there." No, you are right. It is not easy. To face a storm of lead, or feel the sharp-edged blade, or yield to the eating flame, -- that is never easy.

But this is what I mean. There's the heroic in it, and that helps. You brace yourself for it. The terrible crisis comes. You pull together and pray and resolutely, desperately, face it. A little while, and it's over. You've been true in the sharp crisis. You have taken a place with the noble army of martyrs. And we who hear of it have a martyr's halo about your head.

But there's something immensely harder to do. Without making a whit less than it is the splendid courage of martyrdom, there's something that takes immensely more courage, and a deeper longer-seasoned heroism, and that is to be a living martyr, to bear the simple true witness tactfully but clearly, when it takes the very life of your life to do it, though it doesn't take your bodily life in a violent way.

You know they don't martyr people these days for their Christian faith. At least not in the western half of the earth, the Christian hemisphere. No, that's quite behind the calendar. That's rather crude, quite behind the cultured advanced Christian progress of our day. Our Christian civilization has gone long strides beyond that. We have grown much more refined. Now we kill them socially. Many a one who would live true to the Jesus-ideals in daily life in a simple sane way finds certain social doors shut and carefully barred.

We kill them commercially now. The man who will quietly hew to the Jesus-line in business is quite apt to find his income reduced. The bulk of business shrinks. The thermometer is run down below the living point. We kill men by frost now. The blockade system is skilfully used; isolation and insulation from certain circles. We are much more refined.

The great need to-day is of living witnesses to the Christ in home, and social circle, in the street, and in the market-place.

"So he died for his faith; that is fine,
More than the most of us do.
But stay, can yon add to that line
That he lived for it, too?

"It's easy to die. Men have died
For a wish or a whim --
From bravado or passion or pride.
Was it hard for him?

"But to live: every day to live out
All the truth that he dreamt,
While his friends met his conduct with doubt,
And the world with contempt.

"Was it thus that he plodded ahead,
Never turning aside?
Then we'll talk of the life that he led"
Even more than the death that he died.

tarshish or nineveh
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