Radical Discipleship – Dirk Willemsz

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”  (Romans 12:14, ESV)

One of the finest historical examples of a commitment to radical discipleship is the story of Dirk Willemsz.  Dirk was a sixteenth-century Anabaptist who lived in Holland.  According to the account in the Martyr’s Mirror, Dirk was imprisoned for his faith.  He managed to escape, although he was pursued by a guard.  As he fled, he came to a river that was covered with a thin layer of ice.  Dirk made it across safely, but the guard fell through and would have soon drowned.  Astonishingly, Dirk turned back and rescued his pursuer.  The guard wanted to spare him for his act of love, but the burgomaster ordered that Dirk be returned to prison.  In May of 1569 Dirk Willemsz was burned at the stake.
This engraving was created by Jan Luiken and was published in the Martyr’s Mirror.  

Dirk

Source: http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/dirk_willemsz_d._1569

These Inward Trails

I asked the Lord that I might grow,
In faith, in love, in every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this He made me feel,
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell,
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed,
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this?” I tremblingly cried,
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in Me.”

(Written by John Newton)

Radical Discipleship – Cyprian

A challenging example of radical discipleship is the life of Cyprian.  Cyprian was a wealthy Roman who lived in the third century A.D.  He became a Christian in 246 at the age of 40.  As a new convert, he was so overjoyed to have found Christ and receive the new birth that he liquidated his entire estate, gave the money to the poor, and rejoiced because he was free from material possessions.  Cyprian became an overseer in the church and also wrote some valuable works, including some remarkable passages on Christian rebirth.  Because of persecution, most of his ministry was conducted underground.  He worked tirelessly for the church and proved faithful unto death – he was beheaded by the Romans in 258.

(Source: David Bercot, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, p. 13)