By now, most of the world has heard about the horror that occurred on the shores of Lybia this past Sunday. ISIS terrorists captured and beheaded 21 Christian Egyptian men because of their faith in Jesus Christ and posted a gruesome video for the world to see. No matter the angle that the media has spun this, let’s call this exactly what it is – blatant hate and attack on Christianity and on those who follow Jesus Christ.
This post is not intended to recap the brutality of the events that occurred on that shore on Sunday. This post is intended to illuminate the beauty of truth within this story and call the church to action.
Those men paid the ultimate price for their faith in Christ.
“…for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11b
They each made unwavering decisions in weeks, months, and years past that they would love their Savior more than their very lives. And so they gave their lives. And the world watched.
Make no mistake. This was not simply bravery or courage on their part. This was faith. This was a taking up of their cross to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
What ISIS intended for evil against these men and against God’s church backfired on them. Why? Because unwavering faith in Jesus Christ was made known for the entire world to see. Men who refused to deny Jesus. Men who went to their death bearing His name. Men who would not bow down to the evil of this world but would only bow down to the One true God. So, ISIS lost, just as evil always will.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11a
Devastation and heartbreak. Yes. Overwhelming sorrow and loss. Yes. Human depravity and evil at an all-time high. Yes. BUT, people of the cross, there is beauty from ashes. Power in their lives, and victory in their deaths. They overcame, and they now stand with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.
Will we rise up? Will we mourn with those who are mourning? Will we unashamedly wear the name of Jesus and refuse to deny Him, just as they have? Will we pray, church, will we pray? Will we call down on the power and justice of our God in heaven to put an end to this evil here on earth? Will we stand in the gap? Will we boldly proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, the very Gospel for which some are currently in chains? Will we rise up?
Jesus, what grief this must cause your Spirit. To see the world you so lovingly created choose to embrace evil and wickedness more than you. Father, forgive us of our sins. Forgive us of our part. Forgive us for our complacency. When much of the Christian world lives under the very real threat of persecution, we live in freedom, and still we are ashamed of your name. Break our hearts, oh God, for what breaks yours. Give us such a steadfastness of faith in your name that we would be willing to give up our own lives, just as you have given your life for us. Forgive us of our silence. Forgive us of our refusal to live righteous lives. Forgive us for spurning holiness. Ignite our faith, once again, Holy Spirit. Move again among us. Stir hearts to faith. Stir within us a passion for your name that cannot be quenched. Replace our comforts with a holy reverence for your name, Jesus. By the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, we will overcome! In Jesus’ name, let it be so!