Faithful to the End

William C. Brownson

READ : Revelation 2:8-11

Recently Helen and I visited the city of Izmir in Turkey. Izmir is ancient Smyrna, site of one of the congregations addressed by the risen Jesus in the book of Revelation. The early believers in Smyrna faced persecution and affliction, and were charged by the Lord to be “faithful until death.” His promise to them was, “I will give you the crown of life.”

Two generations later, the aged bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, was burned to death in this city. Commanded by the authorities to deny Christ, he said: “Eighty and six years I have served him and he has done me no wrong. How can I deny my King who saved me?”

The place where Polycarp died is now a cemetery high atop the city. As we stood there, we tried to picture the scene: the soldiers, the crowd, the fire, the brave old man. We wondered if he remembered the promise Jesus had made to the church in Smyrna? I think he must have.

World missions expert David Barrett estimates that during this year as many as 300,000 Christians may be martyred for their faith. We may not be among them, but the charge and the promise are for us as well.

PRAYER

Father, whatever we may face in the days ahead, grant us grace to be faithful until death. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.