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What Does Our Faith Cost Us?
by Mark Nickles
2/21/2015 / Christian Living
Over the weekend of February 14th, the news presented us with a sad, frightening and disturbing story; that of 21 Egyptian Christians being beheaded by members of the radical Islamic group, ISIS.
It is saddening to consider the physical pain these men experienced as they died, and the emotional and psychological pain their families must now deal with, as they come to terms with their absence from their lives.
It is frightening to consider that there are individuals in this world, such as the ISIS terrorists, who so easily and callously butcher other human beings, demonstrating some of the most wanton cruelty of this age. It is also frightening to consider that, according to their own claims, they desire to come to the United States, and carry out similar acts of barbarism against people like you and me.
What is disturbing about this account? Truly, what isn't, you may ask. The manner in which these men died, the mourning families left behind, the blood-thirsty intentions of the terrorists, it's ALL quite disturbing. But, there is something else that disturbs me, and that is what I saw on the faces of these martyrs for the Christian faith. While I did not watch the video, I've seen plenty of still shots of faces which reflect quiet resolve, settled conviction, and what appears to be a prayerful attitude. I haven't heard of a single man begging for his life, or renouncing his Savior. What I saw was powerful faith, and it disturbed me a little.
It disturbed me because I began to ask myself, "What have I sacrificed for my Lord? What have I given up for the One who gave up everything for me?" In short, as I stare at the photos of these men just moments before their deaths, I wonder what my faith has cost me. And I don't like the answer.
We Christians in the U.S. live comfortably with a faith which we have tailored to fit right in with the world. We make sure we don't say the "wrong" things, that we don't make waves, and that we don't give anyone a reason to dislike us, due to our Christianity. We've done so for decades, now. And, while doing so, we have not only robbed those around us of the effects of the salt and light of the Kingdom of God, but we have actually made it easier for groups like ISIS to compete for the hearts and minds of those looking for meaning. Because, in living a "Christian-lite" life, we have not shown them the real Christ.
A recent article has called this atrocity committed by ISIS a "wake-up call" for Christians. In the face of true devotion to Christ, seen in those 21 men, will we wake up? Will we stop living a cheap faith? Will we finally begin to deny ourselves, take up our (ugly) cross, and follow Jesus, despite what it costs us?
For the sake of our towns, our counties, our states, our nation and our world, may God's people be the church, again.
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.
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