There is much in our world to distract us, cause us worry. For some it is health care, for others gun control or the politics of same sex marriage. While these and many other issues are not to be dismissed as irrelevant, I read the news every day and find myself challenged at the news of death and destruction being heaped upon Christians in Islamic countries. The bombing of a church this week in Pakistan and the murder of over 80 Christians is a sober reminder to us all of the need for perspective. This evil is heaped upon Christians because they are Christians. They are easy targets. The ancient Christian church in Egypt is under direct attack. Christians in Syria are dying in the civil war. The wholesale murder of Christians and the destruction of church buildings in Nigeria is ongoing and again reminds me of the very great privilege I have to live in a (still) free society. Yet that society is increasingly antagonistic to the church and the message of the gospel. The rights and protection we enjoy may not be there forever! For many of us the suffering and death (real martyrdom) of Christians in far away places, does not touch or affect us in any real sense. We are removed from the pain, fear and intimidation. Perhaps it is not that different to the daily list of deaths of US military personnel on foreign soil. It is simply not that real until it is real in our small personal world – until it is someone we know, love and cherish. The truth is the majority of todays believers live in hostile political and social environments. The majority of those in Christ’s church are persecuted in one form or another. Yet it is there that we find such amazing, robust faith and courage! Nevertheless we pray that God will protect His people. Let us not forget those who suffer for owning the name of Christ.
For us, the greatest challenge to our faith is not persecution but apathy. Even worse, is our openness to being distracted by materialism, or the sense that we are entitled to all manner of comforts, rights and privileges. We too easily focus on all the things we don’t have. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing! Remember, out of relationship with the Father comes purpose and that purpose is His mission.