Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
It is not news to anyone, but we are now living in a post-Christian culture. One of the implications of this is that any individual or group that experiences unfair treatment (sometimes only perceived or based on feelings) report their experiences as victimization and “hate crimes” and the perpetrators are punished. This is not to deny that hate-crimes exist and people and groups are hurt by them. I acknowledge it happens, it is hurtful, it is wrong and offenders ought to be punished.
However, I also find there is an often and obvious exception. When this happens to Christians, rather than providing a consistent response, the Christian or Christians are accused of bringing this on themselves. There is little sympathy or protection for them. And what we experience here is nothing in comparison to what Christians in other parts of the world experience, where persecution, suffering and death is the all-too-common experience of these dear brothers and sisters.
Recently I read a statement (HT: World) made by Emmanuel Ogebe, Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, responding to the media reports that Christians were retaliating against radical Muslim attacks.
It’s very difficult to look at churches being blown up and say this is tit-for-tat. One side is doing the killing, and one side is doing the dying.
These are the sorts of unfair accusations that are being made, and more regularly. As unfair and frustrating as this is, if this is the way our Lord and Savior was treated, we ought to expect nothing different (Jn. 15:18-20). The preacher of Hebrews reminds his readers to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are in one body” (Heb. 13:3). Though our experiences have not reached this point, we are to remember them.
At the local Free Church where I am a member, we pray specifically and explicitly for some member(s) of the persecuted church every Sunday. It is our attempt to affirm that we are “one body” and that this is an important way in which we are relating to them as though we are “with them.”
What are you doing? What more can you do?