I'm reading an updated version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, that famous book that chronicles the men and women who have died because of their faith in the Living Christ since New Testament times. I'm only into some of the Roman persecutions, and there were many, before the emperor decided maybe he'd like to be a Christian, too.
One reason I'm reading it is because I have a great fear of dying. I know it's inevitable, but I want to want to be willing to suffer for Christ if He asks it of me. I feel like such a coward sometimes.
I was also struck with how different these Christian martyrs are from the radical Islamic martyrs of today.
Jesus prepared us that His followers will suffer persecutions. Church history records that Peter was crucified upside down because he didn't feel worthy to die the same death that Jesus did. None of these men and women fought against their torturers, but sometimes the strength of their faith ministered to their tormenters and brought them to faith in Christ, too.
The martyr of Islam is bent on the destruction of non-Muslims (infidels) as he or she is dying for Allah.
While I am not naive enough to believe that "Christians" throughout history have not tried to further their cause through the sword, the "noble" martyrdom of radical Islamists bear a striking difference to these heroes of the Christian faith who willingly and with great love and compassion for their captors died for their faith.