Friday, June 17, 2011

And Now, for Something Completely Different

Anthony Weiner.

The Dallas Mavericks.

Casey Anthony.

A hockey riot in Vancouver.

The late Aaron Spelling's $150 million mansion in Los Angeles.

Bono's $70 million Spiderman opens on Broadway.

Meanwhile, the killings in Africa of both ethnic and evangelical Christians continued this week, as Muslim fanatics pursue their religious cleansing of northern Nigeria and Sudan.

At least one house church in Beijing, China, was raided this past weekend by government authorities and several of its members reportedly remain in jail.  In China's capital city alone, up to 300 Christians have been jailed between this past Easter and this last weekend.

And news came to light this week that a blind Christian lawyer and his wife in Linyi, China, were severely beaten earlier this spring in apparent retaliation for the family's attempt to inform the outside world of their treatment by Communist authorities.

Like most Americans during most any week, we evangelicals have been lapping up the piffle and drivel of our pop culture, consumed by a crush of television, Internet, and newspaper coverage on a wide range of compelling social, political, and economic dramas.  But I suspect that if you're anything like me, you've been unaware of the persecution some of our fellow believers have been suffering in other parts of our world.

Even this week.

Having so much news from our Western society available at our fingertips and eyeballs isn't necessarily a bad thing, and to a certain degree, we need to be informed about events taking place around us so we can effectively navigate our spheres of influence, however broad or narrow those may be.  And oftentimes, we're unwitting victims of media overload, as in the perversions of the now former representative from New York.

But let's not forget the people of faith who are living life along with us, but in different parts of the world, who don't enjoy our freedoms and luxuries; who claim the cross of Christ under assurance of not only God's grace, but the attacks of their neighbors and government officials.

Why has God placed those people in those countries to suffer those dreadful conditions?  And why has He given us lives of relative affluence and ease?  Because He's God, and we're not, and He will provide the same love and spiritual fruit to His suffering servants as He will those of us far removed from persecution's reach.  Not that our own troubles and trials don't matter to God.  But they may matter less to us, no matter what we're going through right now, if we put them into perspective.

God's promises are the same to all of His children, no matter where we live, or what trials we do or don't face.

Which means you and I are just as much responsible for living our lives to God's glory as our brothers and sisters in China, Africa, and elsewhere, who are suffering for their faith even as you read these words.

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"? But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand... You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry..." - Psalm 10:12-14a, 17a

Thanks be to God! Amen.

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