Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
My heart has been heavy for the last week having participated in the funerals of a 50 year old friend and a still born baby. But what has burdened me the most this week was the brutal decapitation of 21 Christians on a beach in Libya.
In a message to the “crusaders,” a masked man holding a knife proclaims with a North American accent that the group is, “chopping off the heads of those that have been carrying the cross illusion.”
The video made of the slaughter was entitled, “"A Message Signed With Blood To The Nation Of The Cross."
As Franklin Graham said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren “I am perplexed as to why our President will not acknowledge the truth and call Islamic extremism what it is. In a statement the White House even called the 21 Christians who were beheaded “Egyptian citizens,” refusing to identify them as Christians. The truth is--their barbaric murderers openly said they killed them because they were “people of the cross.”
What so many Christians don’t realize is that there is far more persecution in the world today towards followers of Christ than in the history of humankind. Credible research estimates that Christians are being violently killed now more than any time in history because of their faith.” It is so far beyond the first century persecution of the church and a reminder that this persecution will only increase the closer and closer we get to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God… Revelation 20:4
So what are we as Christians to do? Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has challenged me along with other pastors, priests, rabbi’s and clerics to e-mail the President and say enough is enough! What should I do? Should I insist that he use the names “Christian” and “Islamic extremist”? If he hasn’t yet I’m sure an e-mail from me and others isn’t going to change his mind at this point. Should I encourage him to order more bombings or deploy more troops to the Middle East? What Old Testament eye for and eye retribution will quench any blood thirsty desire for reprisal for these inhuman injustices? What are we as Christians, people of the cross to do? My answer to this question is to ask another question.
What does Jesus say we should do?
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be true children of your Father who is in heaven; Matthew 5:43-45
The question for each of us who are followers of Jesus is this. Are you willing to believe these paradoxical statements that Jesus makes about loving and praying for our enemies and the blessings that come to those who are persecuted in his name… or not? Our Master tells us that our reward for remaining faithful to Him to the end is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Be blessed today as I invite you to pray for the persecuted church around the world AND for their persecutors.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
If you want to find out more about the persecution of Christians around the world visit the website of a ministry we have supported each year through our Community Mission Auction, The Voice of the Martyrs