The history of Belgium has a dark shadow of about 75 years (1525-1600) where protestants and especially Mennonites were martyred for their faith. Perhaps as many as 2,500 Mennonites faced fire, hanging, drowning, beheading and some were buried alive (see this article). At this same time, William Tyndale, the first scholar to translate the Bible from Greek & Hebrew to English was also captured and martyred.
This is important because God builds his church on his people. Those who died for Christ didn’t just suffer for Christ, they suffered with Christ. Imagine, the same way you meet Jesus when you visit the sick or imprisoned, you meet Jesus when you suffer for his sake.
The book of Revelation reminds us that Christ will bring justice to those who faced persecution and death. Justice works two ways – punishment on oppressors is the last resort, the justice we long for is repentance and salvation for every murderer and every oppressor. We fear hell so much that we don’t wish it on anyone – not even our persecutors.
The writer of Romans reminds us that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This is comforting to us because we want to know that nothing done for Jesus is worthless. In this upside down Kingdom, Jesus takes what looks worthless and meaningless and makes it infinitely valuable.
It is possible that 400 years later, that the Lord is still answering the prayers of these saints who laid down their lives for Christ. We pray that God may use us to share with many who’ve never heard that the old story is still Good News. May justice come in the form of grace and mercy.
And may the Lamb who was slain, receive the reward of his suffering.