Recent news headlines continue to note persecution of Christians in Iraq. In fact, one Iraqi Christian woman interviewed by CNN this week shared, “We only have God,” said the woman, who lost a family member in the church attack. “God is the only one watching over us.”
This disturbing persecution of Christians draws our attention to an often neglected attitude in the American Church. Many churches, especially Protestant ones, boast buildings complete with a Christian flag and American flag resting in prominent worship space for all to see. While unintentional, this setting has often fostered the idea that God cares about the US more than other countries. This is simply not true.
Our Christian family extends to brothers and sisters worldwide who claim the name of Christ. A Christian in Taliban territory, or in China, or among the persecuted in Iraq, Iran, or elsewhere, is just as valuable in God’s sight as those of us worshiping in America. God is border-blind in His love, calling us to one family whose goal is to love our Father and one another.
How do we live this out? There are no easy answers. I for one am doing my best to show love to those who are often left out of the spotlight of megachurch growth and bestselling books. Others, such as Intervarsity’s Urbana Conference (interestingly held in St. Louis rather than Urbana, IL), have taken this same approach. Most of its speakers are missionaries or social justice workers in difficult places, not the names featured in Time Magazine’s Top 25 Evangelicals.
One way your church could change minds on this one relates to what many churches do when holding a “mission Sunday” or missionary conference. Often, flags from nations around the world hang around the room, reminding congregants of those being reached “to the ends of the earth.”
My suggestion? Leave those flags up all year. Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Maldives, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Nigeria, and all of the other countries where God has extended His grace could use our ongoing attention, prayers, and support.
Why? Because Christ’s love does not stop at the border. Neither should ours.
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