Peace on earth. Silent night, all is calm. Tranquility is one of the marks of the Christmas season, but it seems this year there is very little peace on earth.
In America, Christians worked ourselves into a frenzy over a magazine interview this Christmas season. Meanwhile, our family around the world goes to Christmas services under arm guard, and even that isn’t enough. In my Washington Times Communities column, I write about the car bombs that killed and wounded dozens in Iraq yesterday. A once vibrant Iraqi church is all but vanquished. Throughout the world, Christians suffer persecution. Iranian-born American Pastor Saeed Abedini spends his second Christmas in an Iranian jail for preaching the gospel. Somalia even outlawed Christmas this year.
Perhaps we didn’t want to harsh our Christmas mellow, but the Western Church seems reluctant to become involved in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters. It reminds me of the verse in Jeremiah, “They have healed the wounds of my people lightly, saying ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” There is no peace, whether we acknowledge that fact or not.
Of course, there are no easy answers to the suffering. Often pointing out persecution elicits a challenge, “Are you suggesting we invade the oppressors?” Well, no. Not every problem requires a government solution. Actually, I would say most problems don’t require a government solution. But that doesn’t mean there’s not anything we can do. One thing we can do is shine light on the problem — where the light comes, darkness flees. Educate yourself and others about the plight of the oppressed, the persecuted church as well as others. We can also support the church where it’s persecuted.
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But above all, pray for the persecuted church.