The link to the photos was all over social media. I didn’t want to look. I knew my soul would be shocked. I knew my heart would be broken. My finger hovered while I debated, and then I did it; I clicked on the link.
Never in a million years could I have imagined such brutality of man against man. Surely, I thought, the photos are not real. But it appears this is true. This is happening. This is the world we are living in. I wanted to throw up. What did I see? (I must warn you, the following descriptions are graphic.)
I saw the photo of a father holding the body of his precious little girl, her dress splashed with blood. Her head cut from her body. I thought of the fear this little one must have endured when she was snatched from her parent’s arms. I thought of her parent’s heartbreak. I thought of our grandsons, our nieces and nephews.
I saw the photo of a young woman, her naked torso stretched as her head was pulled back by a bloody hand; throat slit, her life blood drained into a tub. I thought of the horror of everything else that must have happened to her before she was brutally murdered. I thought of our daughters-in-law, our sisters and nieces.
I saw the photo of many young crucified men. I thought of the valiant fight they must have fought before they were overpowered. I thought of my husband, our sons, our brothers and our nephews.
I saw the photo of elderly women trying to walk up the side of a mountain, rocks slipping beneath their feet. I wondered if they were thinking, “Don’t let me slow you down; leave me behind”. I thought of my mom and my mother-in-law.
I saw the photo of the houses marked with the Arabic letter “N” which stands for the word “Nasrani” which means Christian in Arabic (this is the photo above). I read that if the inhabitants of these houses return, they will be slaughtered.
There were comments from other people who saw the photos. Almost all of them were simply, “Pray.” Yes, we need to pray, but for what?
My first thought is the same as practically everyone else’s, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” But why is that my prayer? Do I want Jesus to come before this horror, this genocide, this holocaust crosses the ocean and my family is in danger? Or do I want Jesus to come and end the wickedness? Do I want Him to come and remove the curse? Do I want Him to come as the Victorious Conquering King? Or do I just want Him to come and protect my family from persecution?
These persecuted people are my family! They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are truly “blood” relatives! I will sit alongside these believers for all eternity and praise the King; I feel like I should be doing more for them now, but I don’t know what to do. Or am I afraid that if I step up and do something, it might bring persecution my way? I confess, I don’t want to experience this. I know that all Christians will experience persecution…
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish… you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” – 2 Timothy 3:12-15
I know that’s true, you know it’s true. But we don’t want this! No one wants to be forced onto a mountaintop, starved, raped, crucified or beheaded, and we surely don’t want that for our families. Actually, most of us are probably content with the grievous persecution that comes from being shunned by the bunco club. We’re just fine when our persecution is only slightly uncomfortable. We’re not prepared for persecution that involves having to choose between life and death!
If the wave of persecution is in direct correlation to the size of the rock tossed into the spiritual pond, then how small a pebble are we settling for? How far under the spiritual radar are we willing to live our lives so that we’re not noticed as Christians? How much unrighteousness will we tolerate so that we don’t make ourselves, or others, uncomfortable? Heaven forbid we stand out as God’s children! Heaven forbid that we don’t!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
It’s easy to think of that precious little girl resting in Jesus arms, that lovely young woman protected from any more harm, those young men marching in Jesus’ victory parade, and those older women singing praises for ten thousand years, but those comforting thoughts can’t become the salve for my, or your, heartache. They can’t enable me, or you, to creep back into the yawning gulf of complacency.
Were the photos shocking? Yes. Heartbreaking? Yes. But, are they horrifying enough to become the bomb blast that explodes the fog of self-focused contentment out of my heart and yours and forces us to take a stand for Jesus? Will they be the impetus that incites you and me to leave behind political correctness so that we are not afraid to call evil what it is: Evil? Or will they fade away when this news cycle is over?
I think we all must look at one more shocking photo — the picture of our own heart. How much evil are you or I willing to abide before we say enough is enough and choose to live every moment of our lives for Jesus’ sake? These photos should propel us to soul searching: Am I willing to live for Jesus in such a way that I make a difference in the world? Am I willing to live for Jesus at work — even if it means losing the chance at a job promotion. Am I willing to live for Jesus in my neighborhood — even if it means being left off the invitation list. Am I willing to live for Jesus at school — even if it means no prom date? Am I willing to live for Jesus because people around me are facing eternal death.
Jesus didn’t ask us to die for Him, though many are dying. Jesus asks us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. We are to live for Jesus!
There are only two powers at work in this world: The power of God for good and the power of the Devil for evil. These photos reveal the work of pure evil. Evil knows no boundaries. Evil is all around us. Evil is here.
We must not be afraid to speak the truth about evil. We must not be afraid to call out evil. We must not be afraid to take a stand against evil.
We must not be afraid to speak the truth about God. We must not be afraid to call on God. We must not be afraid to take a stand for God.
If these evil men who are beheading children, raping and murdering women, and crucifying men walked through your neighborhood today, would they pause in front of your house and paint the “N”? Or would they assume you are not a threat, and keep on walking? Which is worse?