Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's a Heartbreak, Not A Headache

Earlier today, I read an update from Voice of the Martyrs, which is an organization that monitors the persecution of Christians around the world. It might surprise many who read this to learn that persecution of Christians is at levels not seen since the Romans ruled most of the known world. Men and women of faith are being tortured and killed simply because of their faith. As seen in two recent events, the slaughter of aid workers in Afghanistan, and the execution of 4 more Christian aid workers in Somalia, even in those cases where the Christians were actively working for the good of the people from whom their murderers came, the price they paid for loving their neighbor was their lives.

When I shared the post on Facebook earlier, I asked about how one could square the idea that one particular religion was "the religion of peace" with these actions. Maybe that's a valid question for those who practice that religion to ask. I certainly would were it true of Christianity. But by asking it, I don't think I helped any. So I removed the post.

Here's the deal for me. People like those who were slain are my heroes. I see them as people who in the most difficult conditions imaginable, and at great personal sacrifice, are spending (appropriate word I think) their lives loving God by serving His "least of these." I admire their courage and their choices. See I believe putting your faith in Jesus means "signing up" for a lifetime of of service to God through love for His people - all the people made in His image - for in every human being - black, white, yellow, red, brown, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Unitarian, Mormon, rich, poor, young, old, American, Iranian, Russian, Chinese - every human being is made in the image of God and as such has worth beyond what we will ever see.

So when I saw that four people who had become followers of Jesus who were former Muslims, and as followers knew that their lives were to be given to Jesus to serve others - when I saw that they had been killed and their bodies left to rot "because Somalia has no cemeteries for infidels", it didn't make me mad - or give me a headache - it broke my heart. It broke my heart. So senseless. Such a waste. Such blind hatred.

For me, a small church pastor, on the backside of nowhere USA, who is doing everything he knows to do to see God work to form a community of faith that understands (even in the shadow of Eglin AFB) that real power is not found in our weapons, our technology,or in our capacity to return hate for hate, but through our fidelity to the One Who willingly gave His life so that people who would never measure up might have a chance at real freedom - for me - people like those martyred are part of my inspiration to keep going on those all too frequent days when I wonder whether or not to keep trying to see a community formed by the Spirit that "gets" what being a true follower of Jesus really means.

People like that inspire me, and their loss breaks my heart.

"He is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep,to find that he can never lose." - Jim Elliot, martyred by the Auca indians.

"Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ." ~Christopher Love, in a note to his wife before his execution

I can't let hate do what a sword cannot. To love Christ is to love my neighbor. So I am praying for the families of those who died, and for the souls of those who killed them.

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