My heart is sick. While writing about everything else going on in my world this great shadow, which is shadowing everywhere and so many, is making my heart sick. Tonight it is stories of children being beheaded and cut in half. Christian children who belong to Jesus. Yesterday it was women raped and sold into slavery—undoubtedly sexual slavery. It is about those crucified and those starved to death. A great and hideous darkness has arisen in the Middle East.Oh yes there was already darkness there, the death of Coptic Christians, the horror of Syria, the ancient prejudices that shatter a hundred communities. But this, ISIS, is literally an army of demoniacs. They are hurting the many communities of Iraq.
The gates of hell—no—they will not prevail—but in the meantime the martyrs of Jesus are gathering beneath his alter. And many of them are children.We write about being in exile because of the actions of this culture and the liberal churches but the Christians and others of Iraq know true exile. The Christians know it because they refuse to deny Christ. And they experience it in loneliness because many of the western mainline denominations ignore their suffering.
The Presbyterian News Service has barely mentioned the suffering, instead, today, picking up from the Religious News Service some trivial idiocy, “United Church of Bacon: May the Lard be with you.” Yes there is such a group, but who cares. It is like some of the sailors on Jonah’s ship making a gourmet dinner while others are throwing all of the tackle and cargo into the ocean.I believe this is a time when all of us, progressives and orthodox, must take seriously our faith. It is a time to consider the reality of evil, the campaigns of Satan against the holy plans and purposes of God. God has purposed that there should be redemption (salvation) in the midst of death and misery, Satan always fails to see that from the planted seed, yes even the death of children, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ grows stronger.
ISIS is darkness, evil in a thousand forms, facing millstones toward judgment. And yet, the redemptive work, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is far, far greater. One of our Presbyterian Chaplains, Ed Fedor, preached at my church Sunday. His text was from 2 Peter, the end of chapter one. He focused on Jesus as the morning star. The sermon reminded me of the time as a young teenager going to church with a friend. I was not a Christian but the sermon about Jesus as the bright morning star stuck forever in my heart and head.The Free Methodist pastor spoke about when you are sick and cannot sleep and are lonely. When you see that bright morning star, you know it is almost morning and you will not be alone anymore. I was sick often as a child and experienced that longing for morning and knew with the star shining I would soon be surrounded by family.
The darkness is here but the light of Jesus is brighter. The Child martyrs of Iraq are safe in the arms of Jesus and we are called to faithfulness in the midst of this awful darkness.
For excellent commentary and help read What We Owe Beheaded Children by Lori Stanley Roeleveld
(Update) Because Pastor Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition has suggested that the beheading of children in Iraq might be false I am putting a couple of links up. His, Factchecker: Is ISIS beheading children in Iraq? and Snopes who state that it is undetermined whether there is beheading of children although there is certainly killing of children. http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/isis.asp#SKuDBeoTw3ySWJjx.01