The world was shocked and horrified last month at the video released by ISIS terrorists showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. It was one in a long line of ever-increasing atrocities committed by ISIS against anyone who does not believe exactly as they do; they have murdered Christians, Jews, and Muslims with equal disdain.
The reaction to this heinous act was understandable. What is harder to understand is why most Christians in America still do not acknowledge or perhaps even recognize the wholesale slaughter of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and Africa. While we debate how to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, lament the ongoing stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and attempt to be politically correct when condemning Islamist terrorists, Christians in Nigeria are being murdered by the thousands by Boko Haram militants and Assyrian Christians virtually "cleansed" from northern Syria by ISIS.
It is true that the secular media often downplays the fact that these attacks against Christians are occurring, but that does not excuse our indifference. And while we should be outraged when attacks of this kind happen to anyone, anywhere, if we truly believe the Bible as we claim to, we should take note for another very important reason: all Christians, no matter their nationality, race, gender, or any other demographic you want to use, are one Body:
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit…This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 25-26
As Christians, whether in Egypt or Syria, Nigeria or Iraq, America or Europe, we should be wounded as if these persecuted brothers and sisters are part of our own family...because they are. We should not simply shake our heads sadly and move on to the next news item. We should pray without ceasing for our fellow believers around the world for whom persecution is much more than being told they cannot hold a Bible study in a public school or pray before a football game. And we certainly should not remain silent; when one suffers, we all suffer.
Finally, we should pray that we would, if faced with the same fate as the 21 Egyptian martyrs, remain as faithful as these brothers did, who “did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11) and who have received “the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).