[Original post date: December 2013]
It fascinates me when Christians get fired up about something. It’s funny because when Christians get fired up about something, we take social media by storm (ironic because that’s exactly what I’m doing). We post lengthy status updates demanding respect, make memes that typically involve bashing the other side of the argument, and within 24 hours of [insert controversial debate here], I’ve been invited to sign 12 different petitions. It fascinates me because I wonder where in Scripture we base these counter attacks.
Jesus flipped some tables (Matthew 21); and rightfully so, because the community turned His temple into a mall. But let’s pause and think, what gets us fired up? What causes us to “flip tables?” Cancelled tv shows. Name calling. Ouch.
Let’s put things into perspective:
I own 5 Bibles (not including the apps on my iPad) and I’ve never been asked to hand them over. In fact, I’ve taken my Bible to class, read it in various public settings, and no one ever harassed me. I go to church in peace, without fear of being arrested when I make my way to after service brunch. I stream sermons from all over the country multiple times a week with a few clicks; no one has ever threatened me. I have it easy.
This week, in Syria, 12 nuns and two bishops were killed along with hundreds of others. In another Syrian town, 10 churches were burnt to ashes. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, more than 1,000 Christians have been killed and 61 churches set aflame. More than 45,000 Christians have been forced to flee Iraq at a rate that predicts zero Christians in the country by 2020. As of yesterday, an AMERICAN missionary, Kenneth Bae, in North Korea, remains in a labor camp. I don’t know about you, but my heart aches. Not only for my brothers and sisters suffering across the globe, but because I recognize my brokenness, my pride, my selfishness.
Why are we surprised when we’re uncomfortable for Jesus? Why does this come as such a shock? In John 15:18-25, Jesus gives us a heads up about coming persecution. He doesn’t say, “respond to persecution with wrath and anger. Sign a bunch of petitions and egg the house of whoever hurt your feelings.” He actually says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) REJOICE. BE GLAD. Jesus is ever near to us in the midst of suffering which is cause for joy.
Frankly, I don’t do this. Ever. I hate being uncomfortable. I lose sight of my purpose. I forget my mission: to know Jesus and to make Him known. Being near to Jesus doesn’t seem worth it. But on days like today, I remember my brothers and sisters who will celebrate Christmas in refugee camps or prisons; my brothers and sisters who literally died to have a page of the Bible in their language. I’m humbled.
Friends, what are we fighting for? What is our mission? To respond in anger any time we’re uncomfortable or to take Jesus at His word and proclaim Him boldly, prepared for persecution? Are we passionate about reaching out to others, no matter their religion, SES, or sexuality? Do we defend the cause of orphans and widows? Do we love as Jesus loved?
Today, I’m humbled. Let’s do a heart check and rejoice in our sufferings. May days of discomfort remind us of our blessings and Jesus’ precious words to love others despite how we’re treated, to love anyway. And please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters throughout the world living in persecution and ultimate discomfort for Jesus. They are heros and may we fight for Jesus and His grace, truth, and love as they have.