Yesterday churches around the world celebrated Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week (Matthew 21:1-11). This is the week we remember the full purpose of why Jesus came to earth as a man. Sent by his father he came to give his very life to remove the sin of those who would believe so they could once again have full fellowship with God our father.
For two churches in Egypt (St. George Church in Tanta & St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria), it started off as normal Palm Sunday but tragically it would not end that way. Both churches were bombed by ISIS leaving at least 44 dead and over 100 injured. The epic struggle between good and evil is real. The Bible reminds us we do not war against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
The history of the church has been paid with martyrs. History tells us that with the exception of John all the apostles gave their physical life for spreading the Gospel. We seem so safe here in the U.S. but we don’t’ have look too far back to the church bombings of the 60s.
… in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me….. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:2-3; John 16:33
People have trouble believing in Jesus because he can’t be defined logically. Amidst the carnage of those two churches Christ, knowing attacks on our faith would happen, tells us what to do. To our human minds it seems ludicrous – we are not to seek revenge but to actually pray for our enemies. Notice it says pray for, not against.– Of course this is easy for me to write since it was not my church that was attacked:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48
Heavenly Father, I pray that you engulf the churches of St. George and St. Mark’s with your grace and peace. Pour out your healing balm over the injured and the on the hearts of those who lost family members. Cause their faith to grow strong. In the name of Jesus I rebuke the demonic powers that inspire and drive ISIS. Cause their control to grow week. I pray that you pour out your spirit on the Muslims of the world so they will be drawn to the truth of salvation found only in Jesus Christ. For the Christians world-wide soften our hearts and kindle in us a love for our enemies. Let our heart break for all who do not know Jesus. Strengthen us to stand firm in faith no matter what trials come our way so that all we do and say brings you glory and honor. Anoint us to shine brightly for your kingdom. – I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior
Photo St. George Church Tanta, Egypt via Independent UK