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Let us also remember Christian martyrs

poppies 396SXLike many of us, regular columnist James Knight attended a remembrance service last Sunday. Here is his reflection of that commemoration.

This weekend just gone saw the annual Remembrance Sunday commemoration of those that gave their lives in conflict in the two World Wars. They are the heroes for whom death was the price they were willing to pay to ensure that our freedom and liberties were secured.
This led me to ponder something in the days that followed. We are very good at remembering those who died for us in battle and in conflict, and rightly so – they are the people who truly deserve to be called heroes, and they ought to have the honour and respect of everyone who has benefited, and continues to benefit, from their heroism. We owe them all a great debt. 
But as Christians I feel there is another group to whom we owe a great debt - a group mentioned less frequently. The group of people to whom I am referring are the brave and heroic Christian martyrs who died at the hands of Roman occupation and Jewish oppression so that those opposed to the word of God would hear the truth, and so that the message of salvation would be propagated far beyond their immediate locale. 
In considering this subject, we ought to be mindful of the conditions under which early Christians lived – we can see this from reading the New Testament, as well as what historians tell us, that they were extremely gruesome and oppressive conditions – not unlike Stalinist Russia, where citizens’ rights were curbed and the ruling authorities saw murder as a quick fix solution to problems (Herod’s command to slaughter the infants in Bethlehem probably was an act not uncommon in that political climate). 
Because Christ was resurrected and defeated death, others were not afraid to face death for their belief in Jesus Christ, because they knew that no opposition could be strong enough to deny the truth of Christ, even at the hands of death.
Although the church throughout its early years endured severe persecution at the hands of both the Jewish and Roman authorities, it flourished and grew. 
As we stood in our respective churches last Sunday - just as we remembered what the brave soldiers did for our liberties in the Two World Wars, we should also think back to what our early Christian brothers and sisters did for us to ensure that the people of today have church buildings in which to worship and scripture with which to study God's word.  

James Knight is a local government officer based in Norwich, and is a regular columnist for Christian community websites Network Norfolk and Network Ipswich. He also blogs regularly as ‘The Philosophical Muser’, and contributes articles to UK think tanks The Adam Smith Institute and The Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).


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