Martyred Christians are in good companyPublished 9:14am Thursday, August 21, 2014
Our first response when we hear of Christians being beheaded, kidnapped, raped, shot, or experiencing various other atrocities is horror. We cannot imagine such intolerance by other human beings. As far as we know, the only reason for the apparent genocide is that those being ravaged profess Jesus Christ.
But wait . . . there is a biblical and historical perspective that must not escape us. John the Baptist, a preacher of the gospel and cousin of Jesus, was beheaded for his witness of righteousness against King Herod (Matthew 14:10). That incident was especially ghoulish in that a request was made for his head to be brought on a platter.
Tradition tells us that the apostle Paul was beheaded in a Roman prison. The apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Other Christians were fed to lions, impaled on sharp poles, burned at the stake, and so on.
In the New Testament book of Hebrews, we read, in chapter 11, verses 37-38, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword . . . they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Does that sound like what is going on in Iraq right now?
And, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was crucified on a Roman cross.
We have the words of Jesus, in John 15:20, “If they persecuted me [Jesus], they will also persecute you.” We can expect nothing more than what they did to Jesus.
Here is the capstone to all this: Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you, and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
A Christian must have eternal perspective. This world and our time in it is nothing more than an opportunity to prepare for heaven.
One persecuted Christian made this statement, “Their weapon is killing; our weapon is dying.”
Pray that God’s grace will be abundant for all those suffering, and pray that we will stand like they are standing if similar circumstances come our way.
Dan Puckett works with road team operations at Life Action Ministries in Buchanan, Michigan.