Recognizing that how we speak as Christians matters profoundly–we serve a living Word–let’s give some thought to three very different words in response to persecution from three very different religious leaders:
1. Archbishop Bashar Warda, Catholic Chaldean Church in Kurdistan, speaking on the situation of the decimation of the Christian population of Iraq.
We don’t have much time left as Christians in this region… As a Catholic I find it hard to say, but I want military action, there is no other way now.
2. Mordecai, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, speaking to Esther on the event of the discovery of a plot by Haman the Agagite to exterminate the Jewish population.
The fact is, even if you remain silent now, someone else will help and rescue the Jews, but you and your relatives will die.
3. Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, issuing a statement on the ISIS execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.
While it may seem illogical or incomprehensible, we also pray for those who have carried out these horrific crimes, that the value of God’s creation and human life may become more evident to them, and in this realisation, that the wider effects of pain brought by this and other acts of brutality may be realised and avoided….
In the midst of this sorrow however, we must continue to dig deeper for the joy that comes from an understanding that this life is but a “vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14), and that true glory and joy are found in an eternal life prepared for all those who live in and for love and peace.
It is only through this understanding that we can continue to live according to the words of 1 Peter 3:15 as demonstrated in the life and witness of the Coptic Church and her children over centuries, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”