This is my response for professed “mature Christians” who say they aren’t part of a local church because churches are full of hypocrites. Consequently they justify their three buddies at Starbucks every other Thursday as their “church.” Listen, don’t let your illusion of ideal Christian community keep you from experiencing actual Christian community within the local church. Are churches full of hypocrites? Yup. Join us. We have a seat for you. If you love Jesus, you have to love what Jesus loved. And, despite her foibles and faults, Jesus loves the local church.
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.
– Matthew 5:10-12
Oh that God would work in my heart like he has in my Egyptian brother’s in light of their great loss for Jesus’ sake. This is a life centered upon the gospel.
Remember those who are in prison,
as though in prison with them,
and those who are mistreated,
since you also are in the body.
– Hebrews 13:3
The news last Sunday about 21 Egyptian Christians being beheaded at the hands of ISIS affected more greatly than I imagined. It’s not as if this was the first time followers of Jesus has been persecuted or even lost their lives for their faith. I’ve heard that more Christians are being persecuted now that at any other time in history. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. What I do know is the high profile killing of Christians has moved me to spend the next 21 days praying for the persecuted church and especially for the families of the men slain due to being “people of the Cross.”
Someone has graciously begun a website called 21Martyrs.com calling on local churches to remember our martyred brothers (and to spend 40 days in prayer). A video also has been created for those who might include this in their services.