Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried…. Revelation 2:10a
Polycarp was the pastor of the early church in the city of Smyrna. It was a bustling port city of 100,000 people on the Aegean coast of modern-day Turkey. Today, Smyrna is the city of Izmir, Turkey. Paul founded the church there on his 3rd missionary journey.
In the book of Revelation, the church in Smyrna was the second church to receive a letter from the Lord Jesus, as given to the apostle John. Jesus encouraged the persecuted church there to be “faithful unto death” and they would receive “a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Polycarp was told to renounce his faith in Christ and offer just a pinch of incense to Caesar. That would get him off the hook with the Romans. He refused, saying, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and in nothing hath He wronged me; and how, then, can I blaspheme my King, Who saved me?”
When they heard that, they clamored to burn him at the stake. They brought their wood and heaped it around his feet. And then Polycarp prayed, “I count it a blessedness to be thought worthy of a place among the martyrs of Jesus Christ.”
And when that fire was kindled around his feet, he was heard singing and praising the Son of God.
Most of us will not die at the stake, get shot by a firing squad, or be imprisoned for the Lord Jesus Christ. We may not have a chance to die that way, but can we not die to this world—a world that’s at enmity with God? Can we not die to our plans and our ambitions? And can we not say, “Jesus Christ is Lord”?