The recent siege of systematic targeting of Christians in the Middle East should spur us to action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. While separated from them geographically, we are called to unite ourselves with them in spirit: praying for their safety and an end to the widespread anti-Christian violence in that region. We should do our part to educate those around us, informing our communities and making the seriousness of this situation and our position known to our leaders and representatives. The truth about this tragic and fearful situation must be understood with honest clarity. Our readiness and ability to identify with our fellow “Nazarenes” who have been branded as subjects for oppression and victimization is truly a test of our own Christianity. If we are unmoved by their plight and do not feel compelled to act on their behalf, we fail to live out our calling to be “members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).
Perhaps we should also ask ourselves, at this critical juncture, whether or not we would be marked as Christians by those around us. Would our lifestyles, attitudes, and actions identify us as followers of Christ? Would we be found worthy to bear the title “Nazarene,” as our persecuted brethren in Iraq have been, labelled as such in a context reminiscent of the betrayal of our savior who, “knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus the Nazorean.’ He said to them, ‘I AM’ ”(Jn. 18:4-5). How often do we hide away, preferring our own security and social acceptance to the demands of discipleship? We regularly cower in secrecy, seeking our own comfort while concealing our Christian identity as Peter did, warming his hands by the fire while denying that he even knew Jesus.
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