Yesterday we were made aware of the beheading of twenty-one Christians along the shores of the Mediterranean in Libya. Today we awake to the major news outlets telling us how Egypt has taken initiative and strikes back against ISIS. Many of the men who were killed were Egyptian citizens. This is a just response by Egypt, but my mind isn’t really dwelling on the military response.
To be clear, I think there should be one. I think the U.S. should have formed a coalition months ago to deal with ISIS. ISIS is a clear and present danger to the security of the entire world. ISIS could very well be a threat of Apocalyptic proportions, perhaps the very threat that gives rise to THE Antichrist. While America twiddles it’s thumbs, be watchful of the foreign leaders who rise up to fight ISIS.
While America twiddles it’s thumbs, be watchful of the foreign leaders who rise up to fight ISIS.
However, my mind has been captured on something a little different. This morning the Holy Spirit has quickened my spirit. Twenty-one men paid the ultimate price this weekend. Twenty-one of my brothers have been beheaded because they refused to deny their love and devotion to Jesus Christ. They wrestled into submission the desire to keep their lives, to return to their families, and remained faithful to the One who today has welcomed, rewarded, and clothed them with the purest white robes.
What did I do yesterday? I went to church, ate lunch with some friends, came home, fell asleep on the couch, then watched a movie with Radene before going to bed. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t feel guilty for how easy my day was compared to theirs. But, it has given me some perspective.
Most days, I go about my routine with little interruption. I get up, shower, take my girls to school, stop for some coffee and a few moments to talk with people, read, pray, collect my thoughts, and then head to the office. I work all day, come home, eat dinner, help my girls with homework if they need it, help Radene with whatever she asks, tuck the girls into bed, watch a little television, journal, pray, then go to bed. The cycle begins again in the morning.
Many of us have a similar cycle. My brothers in Libya had a cycle too. Except one day it was interrupted. The battle came to them. We like to quote the Scripture that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), and that is true. Most days, for most of us, the battle is in the mind, where we war against the desires of this flesh. For my brothers, though, the war came to them using flesh and blood men who have been blinded by the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness. These men of ISIS became pawns of Satan to physically attack and kill our Christian brothers.
Paul called his many afflictions, light and momentary.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
What were his afflictions? To name a few, being stoned and left for dead, being shipwrecked, being imprisoned, and being beaten. Some of those things happened multiple times. Can you imagine what kind of physical wreck Paul must have been toward the end of his life? And yet he calls it light and momentary afflictions.
Struggle is struggle. I’m not going to do the whole my-struggle-is-nothing-compared-to-his thing. There’s nothing to be gained from that kind of comparison. But I did say earlier that my spirit has been quickened. The martyrdom of God’s saints propels me do the simple things well. In other words, if they can give their life, for lack of a better way to say it, I should be able to get the easy stuff done without grumbling.
So should you. But the sad thing is that there’s a whole generation of Christians who are too busy trying to figure out how close to the line of sin they can get without crossing. We’re spinning our wheels trying to justify our moral choices so that we can gratify the lust of our flesh instead of looking to Jesus Christ and listening to the Holy Spirit within. Trying to figure out how close you can get to sin without sinning means you have your eyes on the sin and not the Savior!
Trying to figure out how close you can get to sin without sinning means you have your eyes on the sin and not the Savior!
All the while, our brothers in other countries are dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. How can any of us possibly flirt with sin the way we do in the face of such life-abandoning grace? How can you sit there and weigh the pros and cons of moving in with your girlfriend or boyfriend, knowing that God commands you to remain sexually pure for marriage? How can you not report all of your income on your taxes, knowing that Jesus said give to Caesar what is Caesar’s? How can you allow filthy language and dirty jokes to come out of your mouth when the Word tells us to put an end to those things?
Twenty-one more have died for Jesus.
Yet we flirt. When will we stop giving sin the longing looks, and cast our longing gazes to Christ?