Lately my thoughts are ruled by Iraq and the Christians there. The religion of the persecuted doesn’t really matter – no human being should suffer as these people are suffering. I am in humble admiration of the Muslim people taking a stand against the marking and brutalities being measured out against Iraqi Christians. Would I do that? Would I take a stand for people who don’t share my religion? I hope that if that day ever comes to me, the Holy Spirit will make me able.
I find myself praying for the destruction of the persecutors. That seemed very un-Christian, so I toned it down to “confuse their camp,” but in my heart, that’s not really what I want. I’m like Jonah, seeking God’s destruction for people who really, really deserve it.
And then enters Jesus, saying things like “bless your enemies, bless and do not curse.” What’s striking to me is that I see Him saying to me what He said to Peter after Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant when they came to arrest Jesus.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” – Matthew 26
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” – John 18
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. – Luke 22
It seems that Jesus was mainly rebuking Peter for continually trying to stop Him from going to the cross. But the passage from Luke has an extra twist, telling us that Jesus heals the man after saying “No more of this!”
No more of this. It’s like Jesus was trying to say that violence can’t really be stopped with violence. I’ve never considered myself a hard-core pacifist, and this isn’t really about that. It’s more about trying to take Jesus at His word. He said that on this earth, the wheat and chaff are mixed together, and that He is longsuffering, and that He desires for no one to spend eternity apart from His presence. I fear that this means good people will continue to suffer under evil people while we’re waiting/praying for them to get a chance to know Christ. I’m not surprised by it, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing, and praying, that it could be different.
Most days, I secretly want Jesus to hold off on returning because my life is just that great. I feel a bit guilty about it, and I try to allow those feelings to encourage generosity in my life. This past week, however, has been quite different. I find I care less about myself and my petty problems. If Jesus were to give me the choice, without hesitation, I would say “even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
I close with the admonition to us all to keep praying, keep praying, keep praying. My small offering is the following, a link to a webpage with a recording of Psalm 13 by Trent. It’s one of the most striking songs I think I’ve ever heard, and it’s my prayer for the people in Iraq.