I am not equipped for this task but I am both stirred and compelled to write. I look up and out and seek wisdom…
It’s been a week since the world learned of the martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Christians on the Libyan shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
They did not recant their faith in Christ. They did not beg for human mercy; instead they prayed a simple, honest prayer:” Jesus help me.”
As a mother, I cry for their families who have lost a son. As a wife, I cry for the women who lost their life partner, the other half of themselves. I cry for the children who have lost their daddy. I cry for their church who have lost friends.
ISIS might have thought they were sending death threats around the world with this new level of atrocity. Church, don’t waste this message. It is both an atrocity of global proportions and a reminder of what our real purpose is here in this day that we live.
#1 Both/And. This world is filled with atrocities that can overwhelm or motivate.
Please God, let this be a stirring up of Your people to pray. To stand firm in our faith and trust in You.
News travels faster now than it did when Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. His penned words to the church at a time when Hitler was causing atrocities, speak out now in fresh ways in the 21st century:
“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division, which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.”
This is both disturbing and encouraging.
Most of us as North American Christians have made choices to live out our faith as insulated, entitled people. Ouch! How can I make such a claim? I’m one of you/them. We may generously give of our material wealth but do we also generously give of the time we’ve been given? Do we radically demonstrate love of those who disagree with our beliefs or do we judge them and ostrasize them from our communities? Do we spend the time we have been given on our selfish, simple lives?
What if we took our faith seriously and used the time we have here to pray? What if we live the words we believe: Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. What if we were both appalled by the persecution of other Christians and compelled to pray for the persecutors, not that they would be sent to Hell but that they would come to know the risen Christ?
When I heard the news of the #21martyrs the Holy Spirit compelled me to open my Bible to Revelation 20:4 where it says:
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God…
What we see now was prophesied 2000 years ago. I thank God that He exists outside of our limited 24/7 time continuum.
#2 His words to us tell us that His kingdom is both now and not yet.
Theologians refer to this as Inaugurated Eschatology.
God saw all this happen before He created. He made a provision for humanity at the Fall. He came in human form to show us the Father, to show us how we can now live the life we’ve been given and He has given us Himself in the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and remind us of what His Word says so that…
We may partner with Him in the work that is before each of us. The work? Intercession. Prayer. It is not the only thing you can do, it is the best thing you can do!
We can pray. Pray for endurance and perseverance not just for ourselves but for other believers around the globe.
Oswald Chambers spoke most of what we read as My Utmost for His Highest. His wife transcribed his talks and we have their combined work to encourage us. He said:
“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen…Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe our hero is going to be conquered…”
Do you know how this story, the One True Story, ends?
What we see is not all that there is. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
We are here to love radically. To pray fervently. To stay close to Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith. To persevere until He comes.
#3 These Truths are examples of the now and not yet. He is both here by His Spirit, the Comforter, and not yet returned as He has promised.
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.”
Here’s one thing we can do. Let us join today in praying for the global persecuted Church. Please watch this video.