Should Pastors Use Beheaded Christians as Sermon Illustrations?

ISIS fighters prepare to burn these men alive. (YouTube)
ISIS fighters prepare to burn these men alive. (YouTube)

Last week the world watched in horror as another group of Christians in bright orange prison uniforms were paraded out against the muted backdrop of the Mediterranean to be beheaded. The images were horrifying. No one who has seen them will ever forget them.

These precious believers remain nameless to most of the world, but to someone else they are known much more personally. These men had families. They were dads, brothers and husbands to someone who at this moment is grieving their loss much deeper than we can appreciate.

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As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ we owe it to these men and their families to honor their lives and sacrifice with the utmost dignity and respect. Heaven received them as heroes of the faith. We must esteem them likewise. We should be interceding on behalf of their families while offering what support we can. (Last week I shared three ways you can do just that).

Though we are appalled by the way they were killed, we applaud the way they faced death. Their relentless faith inspires us all. That is why it comes as no surprise that ministers across the nation would endeavor to share the story of their sacrifice. However we must take great care in how we go about doing so.

Just days after the video from ISIS hit the Internet I began to see pictures, posts and videos of various churches and ministries who chose to re-enact the beheadings as an illustration for a message. One video that sickened me plugged an upcoming youth service. In it two adult actors dressed in orange uniforms, covered in fake blood shared their excitement about the upcoming event. It came off more as commercial one might see for The Walking Dead rather than a fitting tribute to martyrs.

I wonder have we considered how appropriate this is?

ISIS used these precious Ethiopian believers as mere props to communicate their message. The beheadings themselves were not about executing Islamic judgment upon Christians who refused to embrace Islam. It was about sending a message throughout the Middle East and to the rest of the world. ISIS knew the graphic images of severed heads provides enough punch to make their propaganda go viral. Sadly ISIS used real lives as disposable objects.

It is shocking to see how quickly their deaths became a sermon illustration. Is their martyrdom truly real to us?

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Daniel K. Norris

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