A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.
– Matthew 2:18
Churches and Christians in the U.S., by and large, focus on all the wrong battles.
In our relative prosperity and ease, we are concerned about minor irritations that annoy us and ignore the person right outside our door lying in a pool of blood taking his last breath.
Contrast the cacophonous furor over the recent suspension of a reality TV star with the almost absolute silence about the Christmas Day bombings near churches in Iraq.
According to the BBC, 35 people were killed in Christian areas in Baghdad. However, it is not only this one incident that should break our hearts, but the fact that nearly one-half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country since the U.S. invasion of 2003. These are the “unintended consequences” of our “just war” against terrorism. And the Church (at least here in the U.S.) is silent.
Some of the world’s Christians have taken notice. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, did not let this go unnoticed in his Christmas sermon:
Today, singing of Bethlehem, we see injustices in Palestine and Israel, where land is taken or rockets are fired, and the innocent suffer.
We see injustice in the ever more seriously threatened Christian communities of the Middle East. The Prince of Wales highlighted their plight last week. Even this morning a church in Baghdad, where there have been Christians since the 1st century, was bombed and 15 more people testified to their faith with their lives. Christians in the region are attacked and massacred, driven into exile from an area in which their presence has always been central, undoubted, essential, richly contributing, faithful.
Some American believers, like Michael Newnham of Phoenix Preacher, have given praiseworthy support to an effort to release Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor and U.S. citizen being held in a prison in Iran. But Michael also notes how we here in the free world may support our own while almost completely ignoring articles such as this one, chronicling the massacre of Christians in Syria.
To us, Bethlehem and the land where biblical history was spawned has become little more than Christmas sentiment which gives us the opportunity to become grinches who growl when people don’t honor the cultural perks to which we’ve become accustomed.
We’re 2000+ years behind in our understanding that the first people to know Jesus have kin that continue to worship under Herod’s rapacious rule.
Rachel is still weeping for her children there. Why are we not?
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For further reading: A Real Cause for Christian Outrage at her.meneutics.