I am horrified at the events happening in the Middle East right now. As I was discussing these atrocities with a friend recently, my graceful dog knocked over a trashcan smashing my friend’s finger. Ouch! While only the finger was injured, the pain was felt all over. She was able to continue the conversation, although I’m sure she was aware of the pain in her finger.
The Bible clearly describes the church as the body of Christ. We are all members of one body. We are connected. What happens to one member affects everyone. The church in Iraq and surrounding areas is suffering. Our Jewish brethren are being terrorized and Palestinian Christians are caught in the crossfire. Do we feel it? How connected are we? What should we do?
Those are questions I’m truly asking. The persecutions they are facing sound like events from the first centuries of the early church – starvation, beheadings, renounce or die ultimatums. I see the news and hear stories. In some respects it seems far away and unreal, and yet a fire of pain for them burns in me. Where is the Western church? How connected are we? What should we do?
I know I must pray. I know we must pray. But do I merely shoot up a sincere but cursory prayer, “God help the Christians in Iraq” before enjoying an abundant dinner? Do I discuss how tragic the bombings are, before relaxing with friends at the movies? How connected are we? What should we do?
The Western church can and must continue to function. But it also must allow itself to feel the pain so that it stays in our mind and we continue to pray. The pain should also lead us to action. What will the Holy Spirit ask us to do? How can we protect those hurting members?
I don’t know the answer to those questions but I’m open to hearing what God says through the Holy Spirit and through His people. I do know that when I meet our persecuted brothers and sisters in eternity some day, I don’t want them to ask, “Where were you when we cried out?" We must find our voice together to answer their cries.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27