Last week, twenty-one men were murdered because they are Christians. At the hands of radical Muslims, they died. Their only crime? They followed their beliefs as devoutly as their murderers followed theirs.
Words can’t even begin to express how heartbroken I have been over this. How moved. How inspired. How angered.
No one should ever have to die simply because they believe differently than someone else. Yet all throughout history, this has been the case. This is in no way something new. Christians have been executed through torturous ways time and time and time again. They were shot. Beheaded. Hung. Poisoned. More graphic: Nero used Bible-believing men and women as torches to light his garden. Christians were stretched on stretching racks. Drawn and quartered (which means: while still alive, their limbs removed and their stomachs gutted). Roasted alive. Mauled by animals for entertainment. This is just scratching the surface of all the horrific means in which Christians have been killed.
Execution of Christians is not new. But that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. In the Holy Bible, Jesus has told Christians to expect persecution.
Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Saved as in eternal salvation, not earthly.)
Matthew 24:9, “”Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Still. Why must the world be this way? Why do people fight over religions? Why kill someone because they don’t think the same way as you? Murder is never acceptable.
I grieve for the families of the martyred men, for their friends, and for the men who survived and are now battling guilt. I weep for everyone involved.
I could say more. There are multiple thoughts zinging through my mind just begging to be written. On justice. On anger. On the government. On the nation. On ISIS. On Islam. On God. On faith. But I’ll stop here.
Now is when we pray. And realize just how blessed we are to have to freedom to pray, read the Scriptures, and attend church without being persecuted. What a privilege we have to worship without being dragged onto the streets and tortured to death.
However, we have hope. Jesus promises us in Matthew 28:20b, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”