I was recently watching a food competition between professional chefs. Many of them either worked in or owned Michelin-starred restaurants. Although I did not know most of them, it was clear that experts and food critics in the culinary world, particularly within their respective cities and countries, held them in high esteem. As the competition continued, many of these culinary stars were eliminated. Their cooking skills were impressive but like many previous competitors, they would be relegated to local fame, at least for the near future. They were attempting to achieve something far greater than their present circumstances could offer. Did this diminish their skills or reputation? No. Simply because everyone does not know who they are does not mean their skills and talent are any less meaningful. I enjoyed learning about their life stories and the obstacles they had to overcome to reach this stage of recognition. They would continue their careers and perhaps someday, they would achieve the recognition they are seeking. In God’s Kingdom, there are many who serve in obscurity and their only reward is martyrdom.
Beginning with Stephen, millions of Christian believers have given their lives for Jesus Christ. Tortured, imprisoned, and murdered. Although we may know some of their names, many are unknown, anonymous witnesses to the life changing power of Jesus Christ. Does this diminish their sacrifices?
…Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
Hebrews 11:35-38 (CSB)
The Bible recognizes many saints who gave their lives in defense of the Gospel. Unlike the chefs in the competition, they were willing to give their utmost. Why? Were they seeking fame? Recognition? Prestige? No. They had the promise of something far greater, something this life cannot offer.
All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (CSB)
Who are they?
They gave their lives for the testimony of Jesus Christ. They are saints of the living God. Someday, I will be honored to meet them in Heaven. I may not know who they are but all that matters is God knows them and has recorded their names in His eternal book of life.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.