A small Christian congregation in the village of al-Our, Egypt, has been decimated. Thirteen of the 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped and murdered in Libya from that small village—husbands, brothers, sons and cousins of those left behind.
. . . we seem to have lost any urgency. It’s like we’re falling asleep and running low on oil, just as things around the world are heating up.
According to Open Doors, each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith around the world. There is an obvious escalation of violence and tension that is often not reported in the mainstream media.
But maybe more insidious is the subtle erosion of Christianity in the secular nations of the West, where outright violence is not acceptable but warriors take to their keyboards and billboards to attack Christian values.
Built on Judeo-Christian heritage, these once “Christian” nations are turning their backs on the very principles they were founded on in the name of inclusion, tolerance and political correctness. Vocal minorities shout down Christians who stand in public or politics.
We are complicit. We’ve been silenced—partly by our lukewarm faith, our guilt for sins in the past, interpreting “turn the other cheek” as passiveness and part ignorance of our own heritage and doctrines—we know what we believe and are happy to stick to it but don’t have the confidence to answer or convince others. Some speak out but a common narrative, a strong voice, is missing.
Adventists have a proud history of fighting for religious freedom and yet most of us have little or no understanding of the issues at stake or what our Church is doing to address them. We’ve left it with the religious liberty department. We’ve dropped the ball.
I’m reminded of the story of the 10 virgins. As Adventists one of our foundations is the soon coming of Christ. Yet we seem to have lost any urgency. It’s like we’re falling asleep and running low on oil, just as things around the world are heating up. What can we do?
Be alert: We must pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us every day. To enter our hearts and minds and give us spiritual discernment so we understand what current events mean in light of prophecy. If we are not filled with the Spirit we’ll hear, “I don’t know you”.
Be ready: Peter says that we must be ready at all times with an answer for our faith (see 1 Peter 3:15). How many of us read Christian apologetics or equip ourselves at church or Sabbath School to answer the post-Christian theories that are a religion for the world today?
Be loving: This is a big one. Christians are accused of being false, hypocritical and unloving. We are not. We are called to be like God and God is love. The world around us is filled with broken, fallen humanity. We are also fallen and broken. And yet we pretend we’ve got it all together and have all the answers. Instead we must look at this world with the love that drove Jesus to come down and die on the cross. That sort of love, dying for the unlovable and undeserving, is a powerful witness and hard to argue against.
Christianity is under attack and we are not even awake to it. In the end God doesn’t need us to defend Him. But we need us to defend Him because it will keep our faith strong and our lamps filled.
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.