Another Christian pastor was just beheaded for his faith in the Muslim-majority nation of Tanzania. You could read more about it here and here.
I thought about that pastor's sacrifice last night when I read these words from Hebrews 12:4: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Thus far in my Christian life and in my service as a pastor, my sacrifices have been small. And sadly the gospel today is often preached only to answer the question, What's in it for me?
But Jesus frequently appoints suffering and even martyrdom for His disciples. I often refer to the writings of Samuel Rutherford, the Scottish Puritan pastor. Among Rutherford's letters was one written to another pastor, James Guthrie. Guthrie, who had been converted by association with Rutherford, took a stand that was branded treason by Charles II, the English king. Guthrie was sentenced to be hanged.
Rutherford wrote to him in prison. Think it not strange that men devise against you; whether to be to exile, the earth is the Lord’s; or perpetual imprisonment, the Lord is your light and liberty; or a violent and public death, for the kingdom of heaven consisteth in a fair company of glorified martyrs and witness, of whom Jesus Christ is the chief witness, who for that cause was born, and came into the world. Happy are you, if you give testimony to the world of your preferring Jesus Christ to all powers.” Rutherford, p.101.
Three months later Guthrie was hanged in Edinburgh, and his head was cut off and fixed to a pike in the public square.
What if "what's in it for us" is a witness (Greek: "martyr") to the worthiness of Christ with our own blood? Paul, beheaded for his faith, wrote from Roman house-arrest: For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).