Last week, the twenty-one were beheaded.
These are the men. Every one of them loved. Every one of them with so many left behind to mourn them. "People of the Cross", ISIS scornfully labeled them. But there is no name more glorious for those 21 men than that. People of the Cross, followers of the One who turned death backward.
But I'm not writing to tell anyone about what happened that day, because you all know. I'm actually writing, very sadly, to talk about what's happened afterward, what's happening right now. Because today I decided I had read one too many cynical, doubting comments about whether or not these men were Christians. It breaks my heart that Christians could calmly doubt, like that, that these faithful martyrs will be in heaven.
Just....stop worrying about how they believed differently than you do.
Stop thinking yourself so wise.
Ninety-five percent of Egyptian Christians are Copts, because the Coptic church is the main Christian community in the Middle East. Ninety-five percent of Egyptian Christians are Copts, because they don't have a different church of a different denomination on every corner, like we do. And as Dr George Grant commented a few days ago, "Here is all we know: 21 men who self-identified as Christians were executed solely on the basis that they self-identified as Christians. In addition, we know that the Coptic Church has distanced itself from Monophysitism, the error that separated it from the rest of Christendom, many, many years ago." Amen.
Here is all we know: that these twenty-one men were captured, tortured, and beheaded because they would not deny Jesus.
We know that as the knives went to their throats, they cried out, "Oh, my Lord Jesus."
We know that they died singing. Praying. Brave.
How many of us, with all of our lofty thoughts, would be that faithful in the end?
Would I be that faithful in the end?
ISIS did not choose these men at random. They chose them specifically because they were Christ's followers. These men died this horrific death for Jesus's name. "Be faithful until death," Jesus promised, "and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). They will receive that crown, for they were faithful to the very end. They loved Him enough to die for Him and so they paid the ultimate price in peace.
"Whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25). The 21 have found that life. Everlasting life.
I am full of awe and full of humility that men so faithful can be called my brothers. They fought the good fight. They are overcomers. Hallelujah.