It's the faces. We won't forget the faces.
The set jaws, the stoic eyes. We can't forget how they were paraded along the seashore.
They were earnest, and on their knees, before their martyrdom, knowing that it was going to end right there, in the sand.
All because they were "people of the cross."
There were 21 in all. Their alleged crime? Being Christian.
A mother of one of the victims holds her son's picture. (From the Catholic Herald)
I couldn't sleep last night. I thought about my 21 brothers, and their families. And I thought about the men standing behind them, shrouded in black. The whole world is screeching with the deafening agony of sin.
I prayed again and again last night: “Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” I prayed the names of the 21.
And today, I wore an orange shirt. For my 21 brothers, and for every martyr, and for all the mayhem exploding around the world. I wore orange for every person of the cross, and I wore it as a stubborn prayer for every person who is an enemy of it. I prayed that the enemies, wrapped in their black disguises, would become "Pauls" to the Arab world.
We pray, because we are people of the cross. We have compassion -- which means "to suffer with" -- because we are people of the cross.
And our cross is more powerful than any blade.
Oswald Chambers once wrote that when we speak of the Cross, the “energy of God is let loose.”
I am a person of the Cross, and I speak of the cross, to let loose its resurrection energy. God, who changed everything on the cross, is our only hope.
Yes, the cross is a horrific, bloody, messy device of execution. And in this crazy world of blood and mess and evil and terroristic executions on beaches, our cross is the Upside-Down answer to everything. God is not sitting on His hands, and He has not turned his back on us. Through Scripture, God is saying to us: "I have offered the solution, and it's cross-shaped. And you are the people of the cross. Will you live like it?"
Some people will think we are the enemy. They will hide their faces, under black hoods, and they'll carry knives and spears. They'll say the cross makes no sense.
But we are are the people of the cross, and we say:
"Without the cross, life makes no sense."
I'll be gut-level honest. Part of me wants to crawl into a corner for the rest of 2015, lock the windows and bolt the doors.
I cry out at night: “Why?”
But who else are we than this: hope-filled children of the King, beggars at the foot of a cross? People who found the Light in our own dark nights?
Who are we but this: People of the cross. Does any other label really matter?
So, we do not stay curled under covers, or cowered in corners. We grab our candles, and we run to the world, whispering hope over the broken with a single flame passed: “Here, you will be able to see by this.”
And on and on the flame goes, one candle at a time, bringing hope to a broken world in need of a real hero, the original cross-bearer, the sacrificial lamb. The orange flame flickers.
The world may not believe in our King, but some are looking to see how we respond.
They are not looking for platitudes or pat answers.
They are looking for a Light, by which to see.
They are looking for people who "suffer with," for people who do not grieve as the world grieves. They need hope. We have that.
It might seem easier to look away. But when our brothers and sisters suffer anywhere, we are called to enter into the pain with them - though we are here - as if we were there. "Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." (Hebrews 13:3)
For every brother who finds himself at the end of a spear, at the mercy of the sword-bearer, at the corner of a cell, on his last breath ... we cry out with you. Though we are separated far in miles, we are close in heart. We refuse to ignore. We refuse to look away. We remember you, as if we were WITH you.
And we refuse to knuckle under. We are the ones who believe that no sword, no knife, no danger, no terror will separate us from God. We are inseparable from Christ.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:35,27)
To some, the message of the cross is foolishness.
Call us fools then.
But also call us this:
People of the cross.
In the end, it's the only label that really matters.
A #TellHisStory Announcement
Starting this week, the #TellHisStory linkup goes live at 4 p.m. (CT), instead of midnight.
Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. You’re welcome to link up below. If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful!
Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Renee Griffin is our latest featured writer.