Are You Christian?

“Are you Christian?”

This is the question Chris Harper asked, with gun in hand, to a class filled with college students at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.

I cannot begin to imagine what thoughts and fears ran through those students minds as he asked that question.

These are college students, just like me, in America, a place where we are so proud of our protected freedom. These aren’t the saints that lived hundreds of years ago. These aren’t the martyrs we have seem to forgotten about that are thousands of miles away from us in the Middle East. These are college students from a place where I call home.

We may very well one day have to answer the question “Are you Christian?” and end up dying for our answer.

I pray that if that time comes, I am as courageous and as holy as those students. I pray that I have lived a life of mastering what it means to be a martyr. Because those students, if they were willing to stand up in that situation, must have lived a life practicing what it means to die to themselves.

As Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

And, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life to my sake will find it.”

The reality of a Christian life is that we are asked thousands of times a day by God, “My child, do you love Me?” “Are you willing to die to yourself for your love of Me?” “Are you willing to let go of your wants and desires and let Me do My will?”

This question is asked to us from the moment we wake up and chose what to wear.
It is asked when our parents are annoying us.
It is asked when we question if we have “enough time” to pray
It is asked when a friend starts gossiping to us.
It is asked when we see a homeless person.
It is asked when someone asks our stance on abortion.
It is asked in the moments of when we decide to watch porn.
It is asked before a meal and we question if we should pray or not.

It is asked again and again, “My Child! Do you love me?” Do you love Me enough to be a martyr to dressing like everyone else? Is it enough for you to love one another, especially the outcast? Is it enough for you to make time for Me? Is it enough to go against what everyone else thinks? Is it enough to lay down your lust? Is it enough to allow your pride to die?

These questions kept me up until 3 AM. I was forced to reflect on that they’re people my age who are willing to literally die for their faith, yet I’m here, in the safety of my comfortability, living a mediocre faith life. We so often fall into this trap of comparing ourselves to others, instead of comparing ourselves to the saints, the martyrs, and now those students.

Being a martyr is not a one time choice. It is a daily choice to trust in God. It is a practice to grow in confidence in. So when you are asked, “My Child, do you love Me?” no matter the circumstance, you can stand firm and say, “Yes, Lord. I love you.”

Those students were able to say, “Yes, Lord. I love you. There is nothing I won’t do for You.”

And in response Jesus can say, “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”

Pray and reflect deeply on the nine lives that were taken. Pray for their family, friends, and the Umpqua community. Pray for all those injured and those who had to witness such horrific acts. Pray for Chris Harper and all those who feel as angry or unloved as he did. And pray a boldness of faith like those students who answered the question.