Nation of the Cross
As so many across the world, I was horrified by the images of 21 Christians beheaded by the terrorist group Isis. I cried and prayed for the victims, their families and the state of the Christian church across the world.
As grieved as I was by the horrific act, I was just as intrigued by the language used in their statement:
A Message signed with blood to the Nation of the Cross.
The statement is intriguing to me because it stood out to me that they didn’t call them “Christians.” They referred to them as the “Nation of the Cross.” Isis seems to be displaying a truth that we may have already sensed…. that the label “Christian” has lost its potency in the 21st Century. It is no longer an identification of our distinct behavior. It has become a tag of religious preference that shows up on a census or a social media profile. Many of us identify ourselves as Christians, but how many of us are really “Nation of the Cross?”
Isis has taught us that anybody can claim to be a Christian, but not every person who makes such a claim qualifies as the “Nation of the Cross.” Considering this caused me to rejoice the more for the 21 martyrs in Egypt. Because their lifestyle, character and witness clearly identified them as people who did more than carry around the “Christian” label. They were identified by threats at representatives of a powerful nation. The “Nation of the Cross.”
Not people “with” a cross. Wearing a cross pendant wouldn’t qualify them to die. Not people “for” the cross. Loving the idea of Jesus and appreciating His sacrifice wouldn’t qualify them to die. Not people “around” the cross. Going to church wouldn’t qualify them to die. If real Christians were to die, these 21 qualified to die. Because they represented.
If there were terrorists were in my neighborhood collecting representatives of the “nation of the cross,” would I qualify? Would my lifestyle, character and witness show up on their radar? Would they notice me, or is my Christianity more of a label than a lifestyle? As they searched for the “Nation of the Cross,” would they find me?