I have often wondered that question. Maybe it started with the Columbine shootings.
I have never wondered if I would deny believing in Him for real, but sometimes it is hard for me to see the point of saying you believe only to be shot, thrown in prison, etc. Why? Because what good are you dead? Who can you serve then? Who can you witness to? While I absolutely admire people who have "stayed strong" (ok, so I kind of think they made a bad choice... gasp!) I do not want to be like them. I never want to be in that situation, of course for the obvious, but also because I do not know what I would do. My questioning does not come from wanting to live or live outside of prison walls. It comes because I do not see much, if any, point to dying that way when you are going to be almost the opposite of a good witness.
Who were they serving when they died? Afterwards, did anyone say "Hey I think this following Jesus thing looks pretty good. I think I might give it a try!"? I doubt it. I wouldn't have. I would have thought something more like "Wow that whole Jesus thing got him killed/imprisoned! That is not something that I am interested in!"
And just so you know I am talking about gun-to-your-head-if-you-say-yes-you-are-shot kind of senario. I absolutely support dying for Jesus. There is a huge difference. Huge. Doing His work, which is usually messy and often dangerous, and dying while serving others and Him is beyond admirable and I would like to think that I would never back down in those situations. But the gun-to-your-head one is different. At least to me.
I do think there is a time and place for being a witness in prisons and I could see a little more easily not denying Jesus if it were to lead to prison. You could witness to the other prisoners or the guards. But again... would that be something you would want to follow?
Our goal is to lead people to Christ. As many as possible. And what is the easiest way to lead people? By leading by example and by showing and sharing how your life is amazing because you have Him in your life. Is that ever accomplished by answering yes so that you can be shot and killed? I don't know. God knows our hearts. And while God knows that our hearts are completely full of sin He also knows what we think of Him. He knows how much we value our relationship. He knows if we believe or don't. If we love Him, honor Him and believe that Jesus died for our sins but said no and were shot anyways I do not believe we would go to Hell. There is debate about whether you can lose your salvation and as Christians we believe that you cannot. I looked up verses about denying Jesus and Matt 10:33 says "But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." Does this refer to this situation? I'm not sure. But if He knows our heart and if we use our life to bring others to Him then should we say yes? I'm still not sure what I would do. Hopefully, I will never be in that situation.
What do you think?