The faith of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya whose callous murder by Islamic fundamentalists was broadcast across the world is one of the standout testimonies of faith in the past few months. The depiction of the savagery meted out was sent to far corners of the earth via a well orchestrated media campaign. People all over the world have seen these images of the most cruel acts committed in the name of religion.
These Christians were singled out because of their faith in God and identification with the message of the resurrected Christ. Their plight bears strong similitude to what has been taking place across several other parts of the Middle East, and in parts of northern Nigeria and Kenya.
Jesus told his followers that carrying the mark of Christ frequently would make them the subject of persecution, where people would feel justified to mete out acts of wickedness in the name of some religious zealotry.
Most of will never experience the degree of religious persecution that some Christians have almost come to accept as a way of life.
We do as believers have to remember the words of Jesus.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:1821- KJV).
The truth for a lot of Christians is that they will face regular persecution at the hands of different people. This will vary in frequency and severity. The young person who is trying to serve the Lord and remain sexually pure receives ridicule and pressure to conform to’societal norms of a pervasive attitude. The influences to attain material success frequently pushes people of faith into situations where by their actions they are denying their faith.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)
It helps to know that believers have received the victory in Christ Jesus and any witness contrary to this is a lie.
Even when we are faced with a life and death situation we can have the confidence to know that our future is secure.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5KJV)
Whatever we face we should remember that our future is secure in Christ. We should always remember to thank God for the victory.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV)
We should ensure that we endeavour to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ and dwell in victory. We should pray for Christians everywhere to be able to remain steadfast in the midst of serious threats to their wellbeing . May they fully grasp the eternal promise from on high. Death is a defeated foe.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:54-55KJV)