Yesterday, Thursday morning, there was a mass murder at Umpqua Community College in Oregon where ten people were massacred. A couple survivors reported the gunman’s specific target on Christians who were killed directly for standing for their faith. According to witness Anastasia Boylan, he had the students stand to their feet and specifically asked if they were Christians.
This is troubling and heartbreaking to say the least. We know that all lives matter, and yet the fact that this shooter specifically targeted those who proclaimed the name of Jesus, even in the face of death, is awakening for the rest of us. We hear about this type of Christian persecution overseas in other countries like North Korea or the recent events with Isis, but to witness this taking place on our own soil hits much closer to home for American Christians.
You can’t help but ask yourself, “If it was a matter of life or death, of pronouncing or denying Jesus at the cost of my life, how much of my faith would kick in. Am I truly ready to die for Jesus like these victims? What if it were me in their place?” because we know that is the ultimate cost when we give our lives to Jesus. We’re either living for Christ fully or we’re going through the motions of religion; and the face of death defines this reality.
But here’s the Good News, which is the definition of The Gospel; the Bible (ESV) has much to say about the good of those who take a stand for Christ:
1 Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The good news is that Christ has already overcome sin, death and this world! Anyone who believes in Him and endures to the end will be saved and inherit Heaven as their reward. For the Christian, there is an upside to death. So while we mourn the observant evil in this world and the loss of life we can still have hope because of the saving power of Christ.
Let’s continue to be in prayer for our country, the families and these friends of the victims and the strength of our personal faith; and always remember that even the most tragic cannot separate us from the love of God.
Today PI and many others all over the internet are honoring the memory of yesterday’s victims by making their last words, #YesIAmAChristian, trend across the internet. Will you you join us?