What a strange day! Talk about going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. That’s exactly how I felt just two days ago after returning from Momentum 2015 (most uplifting, inspirational, exhilarating weekend of my life!) and coming back to hear the news of the 21 Coptic Orthodox Christian men who were executed in Libya.
Highest of highs = Momentum 2015: 300 people on fire for God, embracing our role as ambassadors for God, ready to influence the world for Christ and now equipped with three tier strategy of how to accomplish it. BEST WEEKEND EVER!
I couldn’t have been more full of hope and joy and enthusiasm than I was on Sunday afternoon when we wrapped up Momentum. But by Sunday evening, things changed...
Lowest of lows (Libya): 21 Christian men beheaded by terrorists execution style on the shore of a beach in Libya, all recorded in HD video (although I personally don’t have what it takes to watch it).
Like so many across the world, I was filled with feelings that I didn't know how to put a name to. Even though I didn’t see the video, the pictures were horrifying enough. Yeah I was angry, but it was more than anger. Yeah I was sad, but it was more than sadness. It was a feeling that struck deep down and was difficult to put into words.
Then it hit me. It hit me why this made me feel so bad inside. Forgive me if what I’m about to say sounds insensitive in any way. I don’t mean it to be; I just mean to be honest.
What made me feel so bad inside was NOT that 21 innocent people were killed for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That is bad (SO BAD!), but unfortunately that is something that we've grown all to accustomed to seeing in this world.
Innocent Christians have been persecuted since the earliest days of Christianity in first century (we call them martyrs). And if you don’t realize that it still continues today, then it’s time to pull your head out of the sand. In the past 10 days alone, we've seen attacks/deaths in Nigeria, Iraq, Yemen, Denmark and now Libya.
Sadly, hearing about innocent deaths by terrorist groups has become commonplace in our world.
Ok so that wasn’t it...maybe I felt so bad because these deaths were different – they were COPTIC men like me! They share my same faith and are part of my church. Maybe that is what made the difference?
But actually, that isn’t it either. Again, we all mourn for the loss of these 21 lives, but in our church – which we always say was built on the blood of the martyrs – we know that these men are in a better place now...A MUCH BETTER PLACE! That isn’t something we just say to make ourselves feel better; that’s reality!
These are guys who have fought the good fight, finished the race and now they are entering into such joy and delight – the kind of joy which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have come upon the hearts of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Trust me...they aren’t sad anymore. We mourn, but they don’t. They rejoice today and will continue to rejoice for all of eternity. That definitely isn’t why I’m so sad.
So then what is it?
The reason I am so sad is not for the sake of the victims, but actually for the sake of perpetrators.
I know that sounds strange to say. But while most focus on the victims in this situation and feel sorrow for them, my sorrow is for those who committed this crime. You see, there are two extremes of humanity exemplified in these two stories:
Positive extreme: LIFE FULL OF CHRIST. That was Momentum. Life full of Christ must lead to love...to joy...to HOPE!
Negative extreme: LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST. That was Libya. Life without Christ must lead to hate...to evil...to despair.
My sadness wasn’t over what happened in Libya, but rather the condition that exists that would even lead to it – that there are “human beings” who would ever act in such a callous and un-human way.
You see, I can’t even call those murderers “human beings” – that’s why I put it in quotes. They aren’t human beings. A human being is someone made in the image of God and bears His likeness. A human being values all life as precious and a gift of God; therefore we have no right to take it from someone else.
These individuals are not human beings – not any more at least. They have sunk so far below what it means to be human being and have so distorted the image of God within them, that they actually see their actions as something to boast about and be proud of.
That makes me sick! So sick! So sick and so sad. That makes me so sad that it makes me want to fight back and solve this problem once and for all. Not with guns and not with bombs. Not with governments and not with politics.
The only solution here is Jesus. These people need Jesus. We all need Jesus and this episode only confirms that.
On Sunday afternoon, I was with 300 people at Momentum who were full of Jesus – full of His love, full of His peace, full of His joy. On Sunday evening, I heard about what happened in Libya and I saw people who were completely devoid of Jesus – full of hate, full of wickedness, full of evil.
The world needs Jesus more than ever. I am not in any way against justice being served nor I am against military involvement. I believe that is our duty and obligation to defend innocent lives and to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I’m not trying to make any political statements here.
All I’m saying is that the only real long term solution is that people need Jesus. He’s the only way out of this mess. People need to know His love and know His mercy and know the infinite gift He gives us as His children.
We’re His ambassadors and we were made to influence the world for Christ. And after Sunday evening, I’d say the need has never been more urgent.
"Come, Lord Jesus, come! This world needs You so badly."