Barnabas Edit: Christ crucified – A stumbling block

March 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Christian persecutionFebruary 26, 2015: April this year will be marked as the centenary of the Armenian and Assyrian genocide. Enormous evidences indicate that the genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government, and was essentially an effort to exterminate the Christian population living in the predominantly Muslim Ottoman Empire.

That trend of anti-Christian violence continued throughout the 20th century and now in the 21st century we are faced with Islamic State, the murderous movement seizing territory in Iraq and Syria, and destroying all crosses and Christian symbols.

Why? And why the severe hardship and death meted out to Christians under Islamic authorities elsewhere in the world? The reason lies not only in how Islam sees itself but in the Cross of Christ.

At this time of the year, Christians everywhere are commemorating the Easter season. The Apostle Paul spoke of the crucifixion of Christ and by extension His resurrection as being a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. In the divine scheme of things, however, it is the embodiment of the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:22-25).

But what is there in the death and resurrection of Christ that make it so offensive, to the point where those who believe in them are rejected or even killed? Nowhere else do we see this more glaringly than in an Islamic context. Although Christians are severely persecuted under Hinduism, Buddhism and other anti-Christian models, Islam, more than any other, has a precise motive for Christian persecution.

Islam says that Muslims are a superior people with a superior religion because Muhammad was Allah’s final messenger to mankind. Islam claims that Jesus did not die on the cross, nor was there a resurrection from the dead (Q 4:157). From this some Muslims conclude that Christians are inferior and some assert that they are rebellious and enemies of Islam.

It is not very difficult now to see why Christians are persecuted under Islam. It is not economic, political or social but theological. Specifically it is the nature, work and person of Christ, condensed in the most powerful events in history – His death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul, in his defence before the Jews and the high ranking Roman officials, clearly posited that the true reason for his trial lay in his beliefs about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Cross will continue to be a stumbling block for generations to come, but it will also be God’s only method for global transformation.

– paul mursalin, deputy international director

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