Victory Through Martyrdom: Thoughts on the Death of Coptic Christians

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”- Matthew 16:25

Yesterday, another story broke that ISIS had killed Christians, simply for their profession of faith. This particular story involved 21 Coptic Christians, put to death for their faith in Christ. As I reflect on this tragedy, I also am reminded of the great promises that God gives to those who lose their own lives for his name. The apostle Peter writes:

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of gloryand of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.- 1 Peter 4:14-16

We are tempted to think of these events as a tragedy, or even as a loss to the Muslims. Yet, we must remember, as Christians, that we are not engaged in an earthly crusade, with victories won in war. Despite the outward appearance of loss, the winners here are not the Muslim men who slaughtered innocent men under the cowardice of their black masks. The victors are those who died as a testimony to Christ. As Tertullian famously stated: “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Martyrdom is often what God uses to grow his church. I know that the natural response to these terrible acts is to desire war. We want death as a punishment for death. But God desires, even more than justice, to use the death of his people to proclaim the death of his Son. These brave and faithful men had the honor of dying for the sake of their Lord. And now, it is they who have the victory, joining the other martyrs from years past under the throne of God, proclaiming the victory that Christ has won.

Let us pray that we too would be granted such faith, that we would be willing to die for the sake of Christ’s name.

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