Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Jesus, Matthew 5:11-12
My stomach was deeply sickened to the core when I saw this latest ISIS video from the coast of North Africa showing the beheading of Egyptian Christians. Every part of me wanted to find some sort of sign that it was all just movie magic or CGI (Computer generated imagery). But, this was real blood, of real Christian men, being spilt by seriously evil men. It is an eye opener to the reality of the hatred that satan has against Jesus. It is outrageous, absurd, unconscionable for another man to take off the head of someone because they believe in Jesus, but this type of persecution has been happening and is still happening. Why? Well, first off, we live in a fallen world and evil exists and it will only grow worse and worse. But secondly and more importantly, its because satan hates Jesus with a passion, because there is hope in Jesus, there is life in Jesus, there is joy in Jesus. Jesus came to set the captives free, He came to forgive sins, He came to give the promise of eternal life and the enemy of God hates Jesus for that and does not want anyone to know anything about any good news that Jesus could bring. No, the enemy wants to strike fear into the hearts of men so intensely that they would quiver and not say anything about Jesus or do anything that represents Jesus. Jesus promises that when, not if, we face the persecution that we will have a reward in heaven. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 the promise that most of us don’t have on our fave five list ‘..all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’. If we live for Jesus, we will suffer persecution, but the good news is that when we make a stand for Jesus, and are reviled or persecuted for that stand, Jesus said we should rejoice because He promises us a reward in heaven that will be waiting for us. That can sound a bit trite when it comes to these men who were beheaded and in no way am I making light of that by saying ‘oh, but they get a reward’ or that the pain that their families feel is not important. No, on the contrary, death, no matter the how, will always leave the loved ones with pain and sorrow. Of course, as Christians, we have the assurance that these men are in heaven because of their faith in Jesus. What can effect us, however, is that when we see or read about their persecution of paying the ultimate price of death, we feel that the persecution that we receive for our faith perhaps from a co-worker mocking us, or someone evil speaking against us, or someone calling us names, is very unimportant or trivial. But, in reality, our stand for Jesus is just as important. He rewards us for making a stand for Him, even though He paid the ultimate price by dying in our place. It is important for us to stay strong in our faith. I really hope that we don’t let this news story of these beheadings of Christians simply pass us by. My hope is that this attempt to strike fear in us would only cause us to pray more for those christians who endure intense persecution across this globe, pray for our soldiers fighting for our country and pray for more spiritual boldness in our own lives so that we could be even more confident to tell others about our Savior who can change lives. If someone laughs at us or mocks us, it is satan’s way of trying to get us to be politically correct and shut us up so that we wont share the incredible news about Jesus. Heaven is ahead gang. It is going to blow away anything and all this world could offer. Let’s never walk in fear, but make the most of our time and be confident in the knowledge that Jesus is the power of God to salvation for anyone who believes.