We are very blessed to live in a free country, where we are free to worship without fear for our lives. But what if we didn’t? What if we lived in a country where religious minorities suffered abuse and persecution? In the last 7 years, the number of countries where that happens has doubled. In Syria alone, almost a fourth of all its Christian population has fled the country due to violence. So how would we express our faith in such a setting?
I read an interview with an Arab Christian leader who felt the pressure of radical Islam targeting Christian communities in his area of the Middle East. Most people would just worry about surviving. But is there any way to have an active, effective witness for the love of Christ amidst such hostility? The Arab pastor said yes, by reaching out to the poor and tangibly demonstrating the compassion of Jesus:
Christians are called to act justly and to love tenderly (Micah 6:8). They are further called to serve others and in so doing to recognize Christ in the least of their sisters and brothers (Matt. 25:45). Acts of service, such as providing education, health care, relief services, and acts of justice and advocacy are an integral part of witnessing to the gospel.
He seems to echo the old saying “actions speak louder than words.” I think that applies to the gospel too, especially when the noise of chaos around you is so high, no one can hear the words you’re saying. But they can see your actions of love. “Acts of love and compassion are powerful communicators.”
And not only do such acts communicate the power of our good news, they also show a preview of what God’s Kingdom is really like–a kingdom “where the weak, the vulnerable, and the broken are not discarded but are valued; a place where people, regardless of who they are, find a place.”
These ideas echo the messages of our Sunday sermons during May and June. The effects of Pentecost (Acts 2) continue today, as we carry, share, and demonstrate the love of God to all people in ways that they can really understand.
Let us think creatively and work together to show–not just speak–good news to hurting people all around us.