There exists in the middle-east a war against Muslims and Christians alike. It is a war against Christians who will not renounce Christ and against Muslims who do not adhere to the same radical ideas as their attackers. This is indeed sad; even grievous for both mankind and God. History reveals this not the first time for such a war. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns first inaugurated and sanctioned by the papacy that were undertaken between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Originally, the Crusades were considered Christian Holy Wars designed to recapture Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims, then to defend Christian-held Jerusalem, but some were directed against other targets as well. The Crusaders attention spread to those who were considered Christian heretics as well as to those with no faith. It also spread to the Jews and the killing of Jews and Muslims was considered an act of merit. Forced conversions were also widespread, although many chose death over the renunciation of their faith. This is indeed a dark time in the history of the church.
Not only do we read of the Crusades, but later the Inquisition. Pope Gregory IX instituted the papal inquisition in 1231 designed for the apprehension and trial of heretics. The name Inquisition really meant to inquire or look into a matter, but that too soon was out of hand. The inquisitiors did not wait for complaints, but sought out persons accused of heresy. Eventually the inquisitors spread their work to include witches, diviners, blasphemers, and other sacrilegious persons.
So today the Muslims have called for Jihad and they, like the Crusaders and Inquisitors of old, are seeking out what they perceive to be heretical Muslims, as well as Christians and unbelievers, but it will not stop there.
Why do I remind us of such atrocities? For one, it is a reminder that evil has not only been done in the name of Allah, but in the name of Christ as well, and frankly, we need to denounce both.
Second, please use this as a reminder to pray for the persecuted of this world. Voice of the Martyrs reports there is widespread persecution of Christians in Nepal while Egyptians are being jailed for owning Bibles. North Korea is also a hot spot for persecution. Pope Francis claims there have been more Christians killed this century than in the first, and one report claims a Christian is killed for his faith every five minutes.
Please be in prayer for the persecutors of this world. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and while it may be a tall order, it is not impossible.
I wish to close with what I opened with - Matt 22:37-39 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' NIV
I invite you to come join us on Sunday in the fellowship of loving and caring people! God bless.