(Credit: Mosa’ab Elshamy, Flickr Creative Commons)
Terrible news is coming out of Pakistan today where a Christian couple was tortured to death by an angry mob before having their bodies burned in a brick kiln.
Tragically, it is but the latest heartbreaking moment in a seemingly never-ending stream of news reports coming out of the Middle East and beyond involving the persecution of Christians; the most infamous, of course, being the wholesale slaughter of Christians (and other religious minorities) at the hands of ISIS.
Christianity was born in the Middle East and if this extermination continues, it may very well die there.
And yet what do we hear from American Christians and our leaders in response to the Body of Christ being torn apart on the other side of the world?
Sure, you might occasionally see a story pop up on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter feed, maybe somebody even thought to add “Christians around the world” to the prayer request list at your church.
But our collective silence is deafening.
No, that’s not right.
It’s not deafening.
When we enthusiastically show up in droves to buy a chicken sandwich in order to make a meaningless ideological point, scream and shout over having to bake a cake for the “wrong” people, and cry injustice when a for-profit business is forced to obey the law, and yet do virtually nothing when it comes time to stand up and cry out for our brothers and sisters who are daily being exiled, oppressed, and murdered, our message becomes clear.
We just don’t give a damn.
Our actions (or lack thereof) make it clear to the rest of the world that here in the United States we’re more concerned about winning debates and keeping our place of political privilege than we are about the suffering of men, women, and children we profess to be our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Shame on us.
Shame on us for having the audacity to claim persecution in a land where we face literally no threat whatsoever to our safety because of our faith and where we are free to practice that faith in virtually any way we see fit.
God forgive us.
God forgive us for being so focused on winning the culture wars that we ignore the plight of those suffering the effects of actual war.
God open our eyes.
God help us to see that disagreement is not persecution, that living in a secular nation that enforces its secular laws is not persecution, and that having to treat our neighbors as equals is not an act of persecution even when we don’t like them, their faith, or their way of life.
God stir our hearts.
God stir our hearts to love those we’ve never met, to care for those we’ll never see, and to stand up those whose names we’ll never know.
God protect our brothers and sisters.
God be faithful to your people and do not abandon our brothers and sisters in their time of need. Let your justice roll on like a river and your righteousness like a never-failing stream to the parched corners of the world where your mighty and healing hand is so desperately needed.
Bring peace, Lord Jesus, where there is now only war and hope where there is only despair.
And grant to us who have been silent, the courage to speak out on behalf of those who suffer so greatly.