Wednesday, September 2, 2015
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In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows the expression on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

As I Lay Dying

View Point

Christians near and far need each other to survive, thrive

By Nikolas Grosfield

It is no secret that Middle Eastern churches are taking a severe beating right now. It is hardly the first time, but some speculate that it could be the last.

George Marlin is chairman of the Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need USA. Recently, he wrote a book entitled “Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy.” In it, he discusses both the history of, and present threats to, Orthodox churches in Syria, Egypt, and Jerusalem, as well as the Melkite and Chaldean Catholic churches.

I have been blessed to visit a number of these churches – and also several evangelical churches – meet dozens of their parishioners, and hear or read lots of their views on life and faith. Proximity often led to relationship, which frequently helped to affirm brotherhood.

Western and Eastern Christians have spent centuries opposing each other over doctrine, practice, and organization. But in today’s trials, at least, news reports tend to describe the variant creeds as “Christian,” rather than “Protestant,” “Catholic,” or “Orthodox.”

So what are your options when God alerts you to the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Dealing with death

William Faulkner’s famous 1930 novel “As I Lay Dying” portrays various ways people deal with death  – whether theirs or another’s. Some fight it, others embrace it, many ignore it. One harbors selfishness or fear, another offers compassion or mercy, a third succumbs to confusion or fatigue.

Do any of these describe your response to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East, the cries of Christians in Africa, or the despair of Christians in your hometown? The Bible is clear on how Christians are to love one another, irrespective of the differences or distances between them.

“The soul of Jonathon was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathon loved him as he loved his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18) Jesus maintained that the world would know His disciples “if you have love for one another.” (John 13) And Paul spared no prayer or sentiment toward his treasured spiritual son Timothy: “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day…I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.” (2 Timothy 1)

“No one left”

German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller spent World War II in Nazi concentration camps for speaking out against Nazi rule. After the war, he criticized his countrymen for failing to stand up to the Nazis.

Regarding the Holocaust, Niemoller famously said: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Such a tragedy is unthinkable – but not impossible. The Bible says governments are supposed to punish evildoers. (1 Peter 2) But individual Christians are to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. (Matthew 5) After all, God does this for His people: “Father forgive them…” (Luke 23) and “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5)

“Author and finisher”

In 1838, 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln stated: “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” He knew America was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Such a land is unlikely to be destroyed from without—it must crumble from within.

Lincoln’s reasoning applies to Christians also. Their foundation, Jesus Christ, is absolutely solid. He is truly the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12, King James Version) The powers of hell cannot erase or erode who Jesus is or what He has done.

But Satan can divide Christian individuals and groups, and so rob them of the blessings of unity, which include “the bond of peace” and “fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4) and “life forevermore” (Psalm 133). Rather, Christians can seek to “outdo one another in showing honor…contribute to the needs of the saints…rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep [and] live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12)

Mideast Christians have much to teach you and me. An Iraqi child named Myriam says of ISIS – which drove her family from their home – “I won’t do anything to them, I will only ask God to forgive them.” And an educated Egyptian professional told me: “Jesus is someone I trust, I love. So that is why I want to do everything for Him.” Amen.

Please pray the following verses for disconsolate Christians around the world:

Nikolas Grosfield is a writer and rancher from Montana. He has written 150 articles for various media sources, dwelt five years in the Middle East and East Africa, and earned a B.A. in History from Cedarville University. Nik is a child of God, Elsbeth’s husband, and Ole’s daddy.

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