The 21

21 Egyptian Coptic Christians executed by ISIS

by Jim Eaton

They came from poor villages but had great dreams. Most were from the Egyptian village of Al-Our, expats in Libya trying to earn a better life for their families until ISIS brutally ended their lives a few days ago on the beaches of Libya.

According to BBC News, the family of Abanub Ayyad Atiyyah, a 22-year-old commerce graduate, said he had hoped to help his family as well as save for his own wedding.

"We intended to search for a wife for him upon his return to Egypt," his father is quoted as saying. "I also relied on him to help with the expenses of the household and the costs of his brother's education," he added.

Another victim was 24-year-old Luqa Najati, a newly married man from the village of Jabali, who had missed the birth of his daughter while in Libya. 

"My son traveled to Libya a year-and-a-half ago, immediately after his marriage. He did not even realize his wife was pregnant when he left in search of a job," his father said to BBC.

These 21 were killed because they were Christ-followers. A subtext line in the ISIS video read: "the people of the cross...." The only words uttered by these courageous men: "Jesus, help us."

The 21 are our brothers in Christ. How should we as Jesus-followers respond to these barbaric acts of cruelty against them?

First, resist the impulse to go political. Our primary response should not be to wish retaliation on Muslims. A passion for righteousness and a desire to stop these horrific killings, yes. But we serve a heavenly King whose kingdom is not of this world. Our Muslim neighbors did not do this wicked thing―they are our friends who likely feel as appalled as we do. Reach out in compassion and kindness to a Muslim coworker, neighbor, classmate, and show the love of Jesus. "For Christ's love compels us..." (2 Corinthians 5:14, NIV).

Second, resist the intramural games of our culture. We get so easily sidetracked on secondary issues which mean little in the long view of eternity. We're not here to compete with other churches; we're here to bless one another. We're not here to accumulate lots of stuff; we're here to pursue Jesus' mission. We're not here to blindly follow our sex-crazed culture; we're here to embody holiness in the fear of God. "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God―I say this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34, NIV).

Third, take your faith-walk to a deeper level. Our faith in contemporary America is frequently a mere hologram of the true thing Jesus taught. Persecution and spiritual conflict do come to those who follow Christ. Jesus promised it: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22, NIV). Resolve to follow Jesus!

Jim Eaton is pastor of Mosaic Church, Frederick, Maryland.

    Point - September 2018

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