This past weekend, most of Christendom celebrated the most important event in world history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Needless to say, our celebration was dampened by the news coming out of Sri Lanka and the horrific murder of nearly 300 Christians. For some time, studies have shown that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. It has been said, and it seems to be true that Christians are the only group it is entirely acceptable to hate. This should not come as a surprise to us.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18–19)
To belong to Christ is to be taken out of the world and made separate. We are then, at odds with the world and its trappings. Being free from these things, places us in a position to be objects of the world’s scorn. This should not be a surprise to us, for Jesus said it would be this way. Those who persecute us do so because they don’t know Christ or the one who sent Him (John 15:21). This should arouse our pity, not our wrath.
Being in Christ means that we see the world without the veneer of Satan’s lies. We see the world for what it is–a dark, sinful place. For those who don’t know Christ, there are just two possible responses to the truth of Christ. They either assimilate or repudiate. Those who assimilate to the world’s depravity, either accept it as reality and conform their own worldview to the godlessness around them, and live according to it.
But also, throughout history there have been those individuals outside of Christ who have seen it too. Poets, painters, and philosophers who have looked at the world and found it cold and cruel. In their desperation, many went mad. Without hope, many have taken their own lives.
When we look into the eyes of a Christ hater, do we see an enemy, or do we see someone made in the image of God but lost in the evil that so saturates the world around them? Do we see someone without real hope?
Too often we forget who our true enemy is. We tend to think it’s someone who doesn’t think the way we think, or worship the way we worship. Or, we think our enemy is the person so adamantly hostile to the truth that their anger is volcanic. We must remember that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood; but against the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this darkness; against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
It is appropriate and right to mourn the deaths in Sri Lanka as the horrible tragedy that they are. But, it is also important to remember that those martyrs of the faith who died in Christ are now free. Those who perpetrated this heinous act are not.