More Martyrs: “The People of the Cross”

cross-silhouette1Last week evil struck again in the form of (at least) 28 Ethiopian Christians being executed by ISIS.

A week ago, ISIS released a propaganda video showing two different executions, one on the beach in eastern Libya where an estimated 15 men in orange boiler suits were beheaded by masked militants in camouflage, and the other in a desert area in southern Libya where a similar number of men were shot in the head.

The video also showed the destruction of churches in Syria and Iraq. Prior to the executions an English-speaking narrator warned that “the nation of the cross” must either embrace Islam, pay the jizra tax, or face death.

None of the men “cooperated” and were killed.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Libya the same day the video was released. Referring to the previous 20 Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS, Welby testified that “the way these brothers lived and died testified their faith was trustworthy.”

Grant LeMarquand, the Anglican bishop of the Horn of Africa, said: “If they were given the chance to convert [to Islam] and did not, they should be considered what ISIS calls them: ‘People of the Cross,’ and therefore true followers of the crucified one.”

Isn’t it wonderful to be called “People of the Cross?”

We know the early believers were first called Christians at Antioch. Their enemies called them Christians or “Christ ones.” Now, the enemies of the cross have named faithful believers ”the People of the Cross.”

Reading this story makes me think of the words of the Apostle Paul who spoke of people who live as “enemies of the cross,” people whose destiny is destruction and their glory is their shame. In contrast to the enemies of the cross, ”our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:18-21).

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he concluded his letter by asking them to “Remember my fetters” (Colossians 4:18).

Let us be found faithful in remembering our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

And, may we be found worthy to be called “the People of the Cross.”

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