Like most people, I love my comfort. I love my church, life and my family.
When I think about the future, I don't want to imagine a world that is so radically different from the one I know now—a world in which the dreams I have for my children won't come to fruition.
In general, I like being happy, and I don't like anything to disturb my happiness. I'm pretty sure that's how most of us feel.
That may explain why we typically don't watch the news. It's mostly bad news. And we don't like negativity because ... well, it disturbs our happiness.
It should come as no surprise then how little most Americans know about what goes on in the world beyond our borders. However, I'm sure some have gotten wind of the recent rise of ISIS and its quest to establish a Muslim caliphate in that region of the world. It would be pretty difficult to escape that since you can hardly turn on your television without hearing something about it.
I have both heard and listened with interest. Though I can't bring myself to watch those graphic YouTube videos, I have read articles online, seen pictures on Facebook and even read emails from those on the front lines giving aid to refugees. To be clear, I am neither a masochist nor one that considers himself nobler than others.
I pay attention because those are my brothers who are being massacred by Muslim extremists, and I think that warrants some concern. The stories range from grisly accounts of the systematic beheading of children for refusing to denounce Jesus to the desperate pleas of missionaries for Christians everywhere to pray for their protection and strength.
As is typical with us though, we can hear of these atrocities and easily dismiss what we've heard. I wouldn't say that we, as a nation, lack compassion. On the contrary, Americans are some of the most compassionate and benevolent people in the world. But I think we might not see the connection between what's happening in Iraq and Syria and what our response should be. And after all, isn't there always some kind of crisis in the Middle East?
Lest we in America think we are exempt from persecution, let me simply remind you of America's newest religion: Political Correctness. PC has provided a framework from which to reinterpret laws, most of which infringe on the rights to free speech; particularly when that speech comes from Christians with conservative values.
The recent subpoena of pastor's sermons by Houston's openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, is only one example. Pastors who fail to comply would be held in contempt of court and subject to arrest. Imagine that.
As a pastor, I shudder to consider the implications if Mayor Parker were to prevail. While our kind of persecution may be softer in comparison to that of our brothers in the Middle East, it's a chilling reminder of how quickly our liberties are slipping away.
Before we absolve ourselves of any responsibility to the persecuted church caught in this crisis, let me remind you of the words of Jesus: "... Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matt. 25:40, ESV). That we should help the suffering is a personal matter to Jesus. So much so, we'll either be judged or rewarded by how we use our power on their behalf.
Inconvenient though it may be, there is something that is expected of us. I know that messes with your happiness; try to think of this as an opportunity to put a smile of Jesus' face.
What You Can Do
- Pray for God to strengthen our brothers to stand and honor God in the midst of this crisis, even if means dying.
- Give. Food and clothing are needed. There are many credible relief organizations already on site through whom you can give money.
- Adopt. You can adopt either a child or an entire family for just a few dollars a day.
- Wear your cross. Iraqi Christians wear theirs to let the extremists know they are not afraid. Wear your cross as a sign of solidarity.
Bishop Reford Mott is the senior pastor of Family Christian Center in New Rochelle, N.Y.
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