Brace yourself… I just watched the beheading of a young Christian in Tunisia by a radical Islamist. I told you to brace yourself. I had no idea what I was about to see when I clicked on the video link. We don’t show these things here in America, but this was a television report in a foreign land where the FCC does not exist.
Immediately, my stomach hurt. My heart ached. I thought I might vomit. I cannot explain the brutality. I quickly moved to stop the video, but I had already seen too much for my delicate sensitivities. This was not an instantaneous guillotine beheading. This boy’s head was hacked off while he was awake.
I would imagine he could have renounced his faith in Christ, taken up Islam and been celebrated. But instead he chose to die for his faith.
I once read a beautiful book called the Martyr’s Song by Ted Dekker. If you have not had the opportunity to read this book, please do.
It’s not a long book, but it will help you have a renewed appreciation for those who have been martyred for their faith in Jesus. But be ready, while it is a work of fiction, it will mess with you.
We live a pretty charmed life here in the United States. We get to protest and converge on Chick-fil-a without reprisal. We can profess Christ on Sunday- out in the open without fear- and live like we’ve not met Him on Monday.
We behave as though Christians in the United States get the shaft. We have no idea. I once heard a minister speak who pastored a church in the Middle East who, along with his wife, was tortured and interrogated for thirty days in a warehouse before finally being released.
Here in America, we often feel as though we are all of the church… the only church that really matters, anyway. I don’t mean to sound so harsh, but these are our brothers and sisters who are suffering for Jesus. Really suffering. The Bible speaks of the martyrs. Their reward will be greatest of all. For to stand up and face death, all the while professing Christ as Lord, deserves nothing less. Revelation 20 says those who have been martyrs will rule with Jesus first.
We have been offended because of Jesus. We have been ridiculed. We are mocked in the media. Our Christian liberties are threatened. We have stood up for righteousness when it suited us. Poor us.
But do we stand in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who have the faith to stand up under real oppression? Have we asked ourselves what we would do in those circumstances? Are we passing along a Christian legacy to our children that will have them stand should the day ever come where their very lives could be lost for a faith in Jesus here in America?
Not if the faith we teach them is about something they merely perform on Sundays, rather than something they are. Is their faith their own? Do they hold to it even in the far reaches of their hearts? Down deep, so deep in fact, that no man or enemy can wrench it loose? So much so that it’s hard for them to tell where they stop and Christ begins?
This won’t happen without our help. We can’t allow our children to “find their own way”. We will send our children to a time we won’t see so it is up to us to send them with a faith that will sustain them after we are gone, no matter what they may face.
They might not ever face any real persecution, but they will face trials and hardships as our world groans louder and louder for the return of the King. We make sure they have all the school supplies and latest fashionable clothing, but we often skimp on making sure they have a faith that’s the real deal.
The Lord instructed His people, the Israelites, to do this very thing. He wanted to insure that they would not forget His teaching. Speaking to parents, He said:
“Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21
The young man I saw lose his life for his faith was the real deal. He will, for eternity, be rewarded for his great love of Jesus and his sacrifice. He is our brother, and he is a hero of the faith.