Monday, April 20, 2015

Give no Rest to your Voice

What would a church service look like in Hitler’s Germany? As people disappeared, never to be heard from again, and as reports came back of mass exterminations, would the sermons address these horrors? Would they instead be content to continue to just preach salvation and sanctification? Would the leadership argue that the church has no business preaching politics? Would the pastor not mention Jews being herded onto cattle-cars? Would he not direct a public outcry?

However, we need not place ourselves in Hitler’s Germany to ask these questions. Today, we are surrounded by reports, photos, and even boastings of genocide, beheadings, and the kidnapping of thousands of wives and girls for sex slavery. For example, in Nigeria alone, many thousands of Christians have been slaughtered and kidnapped:

The horrors have reached proportions that have never before been seen. Entire communities of Christian have been utterly destroyed. Countries have been emptied of Christians, and the persecutors threaten to continue their rampages, aided by many nations. The church can no longer remain silent. We can no longer claim that we are called to preach the “Gospel” alone! Instead, the Gospel has profound implications.

Jesus certainly didn’t limit His teachings to matters of salvation and sanctification. For Him, the Gospel had to express itself in action:

  • "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' … The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'” (Matthew 25:34-45)
We can no longer shy away from these concerns, claiming that we might lose church members or politicize the Gospel. Instead, the Gospel requires us reach out to the broken:

  • This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
John restricted his concern to “material possessions.” However, millions of our brethren have experienced and are facing far worse today – the taking of their wives and daughters for sex slavery and the beheading of their sons through no fault of their own.

We have never conceived of such mass horrors, and yet we remain silent, and our silence makes a mockery of our religion. God cries out through the Prophet Isaiah:

  • "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7) 
However, the church is confronted with far worse today – the extermination of entire populations of Christians and other non-Muslims! Why then do we remain silent? Are we afraid of the results? Ironically, if we are really concerned about the results, we must act:

  • If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11) 
We cannot model our lives after the priest who passed by the dying man. If we love our neighbor, we must instead model our lives after the Good Samaritan. What did his religion look like?

  • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27) 
If this is true, we have to cry out for the oppressed! We have to awaken the conscience of the church.

What if we fail to raise our voices? It is nothing short of sin:

  • Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:17) 
However, it is even worse. It is a betrayal and a rejection of the Gospel, which requires us to show the world our love for the brethren:

  • “I [Jesus] pray… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
Where is our unity? Where is our love for our brethren? Silence does not speak of love. Nor does it speak of our oneness in our Savior.

Brethren, please commit this to prayer. Have your churches pray. Start prayer chains and prayer groups. Bring these concerns into your churches, to your pastors, and to anyone who will listen. Cry out and be heard. Support those Christian groups that have been intervening. Do not give your voice any rest:

  • Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

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