by Kathi Macias
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
With the recent release of the first two books in my new Extreme Devotion fiction series—my first ever set in international settings—plus working on three other novels with similar themes, I can’t help but be focused on the message of losing one’s life for Christ’s sake. In addition to the four-book Extreme Devotion series based on true-life accounts of modern-day martyrs of the faith, I have written a stand-alone third-century historical novel with Susan Wales, based on true events and titled Valeria’s Cross, which deals with persecuted believers in third-century Rome. The original title of Valeria’s Cross was First Allegiance, which so aptly summarizes the heart of all these books. It should also summarize the heart of all believers. But does it?
This was a question I asked myself often during the research and writing of these books. It’s been a tough fifteen months of long work days and sometimes painful self-examination as these manuscripts came together, but stepping into the shoes of people in different countries and cultures and times, as they struggled to maintain their faith under the most unimaginably adverse conditions, has stretched and strengthened me beyond anything I’d hoped or dreamed.
You see, the above passage of scripture from Matthew has always been a hard one for me, particularly the part that has to do with family. The concept of laying down my own life for the sake of the gospel isn’t all that difficult to grasp; it goes with giving my life to Christ. Because I know that I no longer live once I’m His, but rather He lives in me, the commitment to self-sacrifice is a given. But my family? A bit tougher, don’t you think?
Yet Christians around the world face not only personal persecution but persecution of loved ones as well. Can you imagine being a parent faced with the choice of denying Christ or condemning your child to prison or torture—or even death? Admittedly that’s far beyond our personal ability to comprehend, let alone yield to in our own strength. But the Scriptures promise that through Christ we can do all things—even the unthinkable.
I pray we are never faced with such a choice, but I also pray that today, right now, in whatever situation or circumstance, country or culture, we find ourselves, we will make a commitment to hold fast to our “first allegiance,” regardless of the price to do so—and to trust God for the strength to do it. “Well done, good and faithful servant” will surely be our reward.
Kathi Macias is a radio host and award-winning author of more than thirty books, as well as countless short stories and articles. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, Kathi lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their spare time riding Al’s Harley—hence, Kathi’s road name of “Easy Writer.”