Internet circles are abuzz with the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians. We’ve all read of the horrors. We’ve wept, prayed, written, questioned, and spoke out. But I have one remaining thought that I haven’t yet seen addressed…
Why do we care?
Before you think I’m as cold and ruthless as ISIS, let me continue. China has been oppressing the church for decades. Muslims have been killing Christians for centuries. Syrian forces have killed 170,000 in recent years, many Christians among them. Egyptian forces burned churches to the ground only a few years ago. Boko Haram recently kidnapped hundreds of Christian girls and the secular world expressed more outrage than did the church.
Grow Barefoot has friends working in places around the globe whose names and locations we can’t put in our articles. To do so would put their lives in danger. We have friends whose governments gave them 24 hours to leave the country or be imprisoned for the mission work they were doing.
This stuff has been going on since the time Christ walked on this earth. So, why do we care now? Why is the American church seeing these things with fresh, raw eyes? Why are we collectively feeling that nag in the pit of our stomachs that says something is wrong? Why are the silent now speaking? Why are the stingy now sacrificing?
I might know the answer
“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Here’s the answer – the Spirit that dwells within each of Christ’s followers has said, “It is time.” You don’t get to ride the fence any longer. You don’t get to attend the Country Club Church on Sunday morning and not care the rest of the week.
You get to experience life as did the Apostle Paul who wrote, “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
Paul knew something about persecution. He experienced it repeatedly. I can’t write the way he did as I’ve never been through the sufferings he endured. And yet, as I write about more extensively in Everything We Need, Paul wrote about seven benefits of persecution…
- Serves to advance the Gospel
- Encourages others and reduces fear
- Causes rejoicing
- Promotes patient endurance
- Teaches us to trust God and the power of prayer
- Is a source of comfort
- Brings us to maturity
We do care
We care not because ISIS is any more horrific than countless other persecutory murderers in the past. We care not because the lives of the Iraqi Christians are more valuable than the millions slaughtered for their faith in centuries past. We care because the Spirit tells us it is time – time to care, to pray, to speak out, to share, to love, to grow, and encourage. He tells us He has a plan to carry out in this time and place and we have a part to play in it. And our response is to humbly fall to our knees – not only to pray for the innocent lives suffering in another part of the world but to also pray how we might serve and love during such a time as this.