I have been challenged to write about this very sensitive subject and try to do it justice, so please bear with me. There is much turmoil around the world, with militant group, “ISIS”, leading the way. This group is practicing what they believe is just and true because the god they follow has directed them to do so. Because they are still human, they have put their own style into the scenario, but still, what they are doing, they believe is right. I think this point is extremely important to remember.
In the last few months, there have been many beheadings and other horrifying murders committed by this group. The victims are chosen because of their infidelity to god, if I am understanding this correctly. That’s ISIS’ god, not yours, mine or anyone else’s. In my eyes, these victims are martyrs, plain and simple. I believe the majority of them, but not all, are Christian. Forgive me if I am wrong, considering where I live and the way the media puts out news any more, I may be misinformed. it doesn’t matter in the whole scheme, however, because these people dies because of something they believed in and it didn’t agree with the killers.
The most recent killings involved Christian Egyptians (how powerful are those two words together? just gives me butterflies!). This group of refused to renounce Jesus, with one in particular making Jesus’ name the very last word he spoke. I have read the comments of outrage and horror on the social media sites and heard them on the news. I have a little bit of a different feeling that I would like to share.
I think that we need to turn our attention from the outrage towards the criminals and giving our attention to giving credit God Almighty for giving the martyrs the strength and courage to stand fast in their faith during the worst imaginable circumstances. Do you not think that God desires our praise for His almighty power? Do you think these men could have withstood what they faced in their faith without God’s divine intervention? I don’t believe there is any man on earth with that kind of strength and only God can provide it when it is needed so desperately.
Revelation 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
There’s a couple of things I take from this scripture. First, this is just another set of verses letting us know that as Christians, we will be persecuted. If we are not, then we may need to think about how we are living our faith. I believe every person who calls himself a Christian will see some persecution, and how he reacts to that persecution will dictate if he sees more or not. To put it simply, if we conform to the pressure of the world to ease the persecution, we can’t really call ourselves Christian anymore. But if we stand strong in faith against the pressure, we will experience true persecution. This doesn’t sound fun at all, but I think we have to face this fact before we go any further.
Luke 16:10-13 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. you cannot serve God and mammon.”
I believe persecution is the test that tells us whether we are truly in the faith or if we are just blowing smoke. That is why, I say instead of crying out against ISIS and all that they are doing, we Christians should be singing praise and giving God glory for giving these people the courage and strength to keep their eyes and hearts focused on Jesus, our Saviour. The more we praise God, the more confused and irritated these criminals will be because their whole purpose is to put fear into our hearts, not praise.
The second thing that I am reminded of when I read the scripture from Revelation is that there will be time when these groups who have martyred God’s children will pay the consequences. You could say it’s revenge, but I believe it’s more than that. It’s reaping what is sown and God has full control of the timing, so we should be patient and trust in Him.
Which brings me to my last point. We must remember finally, that all people are loved by God, even them men in ISIS. If any one of them were to kneel before Him and repent with his heart, asking forgiveness for all he’s done, do you honestly think that God would turn him away? God loves him just as much as He loves me and you. If He can forgive me, He will forgive them, as long as they take that step of true repentance. If they don’t, then they have made the choice to deny Him and suffer whatever consequences they must. In the mean time, our main objective should be still to give God praise and honor those martyrs for the strength they allowed God to show in them.