April 19, 2021
By Fadi Kamel
Jesus died for all knowing not all would die for Him. Dying for Jesus might sound a little morbid, but this was the question I found myself asking, “Would I die for Jesus?” This question was lingering in my mind and I’m still haunted by it to this day. You may be asking why such question would penetrate my thoughts.
I was born in Iraq and my family and I left the country just three years short of the 2003 invasion. In this nearly two-decade war, millions of people have died. The unofficial declaration is that every Iraqi home has faced one death in their family due to this war, and my family was not exempt. Moreover, the Christians in Iraq have faced heavy persecutions. Iraq, what once was a home for Christians, has now dwindled to less than 10 percent. The atrocity of ISIS has driven the Nazarene followers out by either conversion or the sword. Many brave brothers and sisters have stood firm in their faith including family members of mine. They recognized their life could result as a casualty of the war or as a casualty of persecution, but by God’s grace to live for Christ in the middle of hostility and chaos as many have chosen meant more than life itself. Today, not only in Iraq but all around the world faithful servants have and are standing face-to-face with death and many are living for Christ in the face of persecution. By God’s grace, I did not have to endure this horror, but that does not mean guilt and condemnation didn’t find its way into my heart. The nauseating feeling of “why me” who got to escape the war and the persecution always crosses my mind. Especially as a believer of Jesus who now lives in American suburbia.
The question “Would I die for Jesus” met its opposition at a service when the speaker asked, “Would I live for Jesus?” The speaker that night spoke directly into my heart as his message encircled the idea that it is easy to die for Christ, but it is harder to live for Him.That it was easy to think and ask myself if I would be a martyr for Christ through death and not through dying to self and living for Christ. This revelation meant to die for Christ and in my own context meant to lay down the perishable flesh and the fading promises of this world I so closely clung to. It meant to pick up my cross and to live by the spirit. The fleeing promise of this world I was pursuing was success. I was determined to climb the ladder through accomplishments until the day I met Jesus in my cube. On that day I heard God ask me if I was willing to live for Him in one of the unwelcome Jesus environments, the workplace.
When I truly made the decision to give my life to Christ in 2015, God called me to die to myself, and to live for Him. This was and still isn’t an easy call as it is harder to live for Christ in our Western context. Where in some parts of the world people are lying down their lives for Christ, on this side we are asked to lay down our flesh and live for Christ. To glorify the name of Jesus which means to not conform to the world and with that comes shouts and weird looks from everyone else. The questions “Are you willing to live for Christ” is hard to put into action especially at the workplace. It is an environment that accepts everything except God. It is not easy to walk into your workplace and say, “God use me” because with that comes dying to your selfish ambitions, putting down your pride, picking up humility and choosing Christ in every situation to glorify Him in times and places where He is not welcomed.
To live for Christ in your work is very difficult because in every situation you are called to put yourself second. This means elevating others over yourself and despite the circumstances you are in, you are always on a mission for Christ. I would be lying to you to say that after six years of walking with God at the workplace that I am perfect at this. I am far from it. I have my own struggles and my own failures but with that comes mercy and grace. This mercy and grace are enough to what I need to live one more day for Jesus and to die to myself. The call of the church is different around the world, but it is wrapped with the same mission. We are called to die to the world so the world may live. But before we save the world, we must save ourselves by dying to our flesh and live by the spirit.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.“John 12:24 ESV
Photo Credit: Jillian Melissa Photography