I was in the final pass of looking over my Easter sermon when a friend texted me: “Please mention Sri Lanka.” I have made it my practice to not check news or scroll through social media on Sunday mornings, and so I had not yet heard.
As I logged on to see the news for myself, a pit began to form in my gut. The first images I saw were those of churches blown wide open, various remains scattered about, and a statue of Christ sprayed with blood and blast marks. While the majority of us were about to attend our Easter services without fear of persecution or violence, thousands in Sri Lanka had endured the most tragic of days imaginable.
Though my heart sank in grief for those in Sri Lanka, I was also burdened for brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. I keep a Coptic cross close to me that reminds me to pray daily for persecuted Christians. As I pressed my fingers against it this Easter Sunday, the fresh reminder of global suffering had a somber heaviness. Because, whatever happens to any human being on account of the faith happens to us all. When one part of the Body of Christ suffers, the entire Body suffers with it (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Religious persecution and violence towards others on account of their faith represent the deepest levels of human evil. There have been more Christian martyrs globally in the last one hundred years than in the previous nineteen hundred years combined. Open Doors USA estimates that every month, on average, 345 Christians are killed for reasons related to their faith. In addition, more than 100 churches are burned or attacked monthly, and more than 200 Christians are imprisoned with no due process.
We have since learned that the coordinated Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka were the product of radical Islamists intending to kill primarily Christians. But Christians are not the only people of faith targeted around the world. Sri Lanka is yet another sickening chapter in the larger story we’ve seen far too much of late including: the burning of three African-American churches in Louisiana, the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, and yet another mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year. Such attacks on any religious group or person ought to be condemned by all people in general, but especially all people of faith.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Eric Costanzo