I recently saw some articles in the newspaper that shocked me. In Egypt, a bus with Christian pilgrims was attacked, and several Christians were killed.
Further in Pakistan, a Christian field worker named Asia Noreen (Bibi) was drinking from a mug of her work colleagues on a hot day. In Pakistan, Christians are considered unclean to the main religion, so she shouldn’t have done this. After being challenged she defended her Christian religion against verbal attacks. This was sufficient to sentenced her to death and put her into prison for several years despite having small children at home. Two of those who defended her in court have been killed in recent years. Only after high media attention and intervention of western states, an acquittal was finally announced in the appeal. However, an enraged mass of people formed, which demands the removal of the judges who proclaimed the acquittal, as well as the immediate death of the Christian woman. The state was impressed by this and would like to reopen the case. The Christian was prohibited from leaving Pakistan, but has eventually managed to do so. However she lives in a secret place – hiding – with the risk being found and cruelly killed one day.
In the rest of the world we cannot imagine what courage these people have who are so strong in their faith today. They expose themselves to life’s dangers, die for their religion or go to prison for years.
Especially in the latter case it is pretty obvious that the Christian’s offense was a trifle and the entire overreaction to it, is more about showing the world that both Christianity and the western world, where it is most widespread, are rejected. The poor field worker has to suffer on that behalf.
With such news, one is quickly tempted to have negative thoughts towards such radical, other believers. But if we hate, we are no better than those who do wrong.
Jesus knew this situation well. He was also accused, even though he only did good, healed and helped wherever he could. Eventually he has cruelly crucified for it. He took the cross on himself, he showed us that life here on earth is only temporary. We should strive for the imperishable life after death – and that we should all love our enemies too. I think in God’s sense, we shall not raise negative thoughts towards the accusers. Jesus did not do this either and we should follow his example. What we Christians can do, is pray for the victims and the persecuted. Let’s send them spiritual strength and support and ask God to bring the accusers to their senses.
When Jesus was arrested on the road to suffering, Peter raised a sword and attacked one of the soldiers – he cut off his ear. Jesus picked it up and healed the soldier’s ear again. He then said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26, 52). All Christians should always remember this: those who do wrong will reap wrongdoing to themselves, and if not in this world then in the next.
Everything that the Christians did wrong on their crusades was paid back to them. Everything that ISIS and others wronged will be paid back as well. God promises this to us. We humans don’t see and know everything, we should be good, forgive and trust that God will help and guide everything for the good. Let us trust in God. What helps: prayer.
Jesus even forgave the Romans that executed him by praying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lucas 23:34). Those that are on the street of Pakistan screaming for the death of the Christian woman do also not know what they are doing. Let’s pray for them that their eyes will be opened and their wounded souls healed.
Let us also be brave and show the world, despite it’s hostility, that we are Christians! I was recently on vacation and went on a catamaran tour. A skipper had a collar on which “JESUS” was written. It looked so incredibly strong. After my vacation I bought a gold chain with a cross as a symbol of my faith. I would also like to show that I dare – that I stand by God – come what may. I thus carry the cross a little bit myself with all the persecuted Christians.