Lent and the Beheading of 21 Coptic Christians

For many churches and Christians, across various denominational lines, this Wednesday, February 18, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent–a forty-day period of penitence and prayer, to prepare for Easter celebration.

In a word, Lent is being dead to self but alive to God (cf. Romans 6:11).

21eccbFor 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, this was the case–the ultimate death to self but alive to God.  In their ongoing campaign to instill fear and dread in others, the Islamic State released a video, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who were singled out and captured because of their faith in Jesus.

You see, in those parts of the world, to be Christian is to court death daily.

So what do we make of all this as we begin the Lent season?  What can we do, those of us who are in the fight though of a different nature?  First, as noted above, to be Christian in certain parts of the world is to court death daily.  Therefore we must learn how to pray and support our brothers and sisters who live in constant fear of death.  Second, we must pray for enemies of the Christian faith–pray for open doors, for the gospel message.  Third, rather than praying for an escape from this world (which I believe is getting better), let’s reclaim territory by territory for King Jesus–by being the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16).

In the end, for these 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, in death, they are not only with Christ, but they have gained Christ, the One for whom they lived and died (Philippians 1:21-23)

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6 Responses to Lent and the Beheading of 21 Coptic Christians

  1. David Beirne says:

    But…but…it was cold Sunday and I was tired.

  2. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    I think the approach you articulate above is a far more positive one than has typically been articulated within evangelicalism in the West, particularly throughout much of the 20th Century. These are indeed perilous times at the beginning of the 21st Century, but they were perilous times in the 1st Century too, and we have much to be getting on with.

    Regarding Lent, here’s a great quote from John Stott in his book, “Through the Bible Through the Year”, on the subject of taking up the cross that I was reading just yesterday:

    “We should not suppose that self-denial is giving up luxuries during Lent or that “my cross” is some personal and painful trial. We are always in danger of trivializing Christian discipleship, as if it were no more than adding a thin veneer of piety to an otherwise secular life. Then prick the veneer, and there is the same old pagan underneath. No, becoming and being a Christian involves a change so radical that no imagery can do it justice except death and resurrection – dying to the old life of self-centeredness and rising to a new life of holiness and love.”

    As for the Egyptian Coptic Christians who were massacred, and their families, I wonder whether we’re even remotely prepared for that sort of thing in the West.

  3. Simon says:

    Copts, Syriac, Turkish Greek and Armenian Christians are probably the most persecuted Christian groups in the world.

    Lord have mercy! And forgive those who persecute our brothers and sisters.

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