This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.

Matthew 10 19-20

And don't you worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. - Matthew 10 19-20

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A love like Jesus from Egyptian Christians

I have so far avoided talking about the problems in Egypt so far as I have not really had the time to fully understand what is going on. I have seen the pictures in the news and have seen some very disturbing images from various media channels. Possibly the worst I have personally seen is the video of a green van running down people in the street, I have provided a link to the video but would advise discretion as it is very disturbing. Each night while watching the news with my parents the stories from Egypt inevitably become a talking point with my parents talking about the time they spent there.

But the story I really want to talk about has its roots a little further back than the riots. During New Years Mass at a Coptic Church in Alexandria a suicide attack left 23 Coptic Christians dead and 97 others injured. The Coptic Church faces many threats from Islamist extremists and have faced adversity many times and while they are "free" to practice their religion in reality the legal system makes it as difficult as it can for Christians. In the aftermath of the attack subsequent attacks were suspected and it appeared as if the situation could easily escalate and more attacks on the Coptic community could follow.

Roll on to the recent riots from the Egyptian population in their attempts to force a regime change in their country and an amazing sight of Christian love from Egyptian Christians for their Muslim neighbours. Now don't get me wrong I have not made the mistake of labelling all Muslims as extremists and I am fully aware that Islam is a peaceful religion. But for me the image below shows Christians living out the very essence and teachings of Christ.

Egyptian Christians protecting their Muslim neighbours as they pray in Tahir Square.
Picture from The Islamist Workplace.

Luke 10:29-37 (NIV)
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I don't think anyone could blame the Christians of Egypt if they decided to shy away and find somewhere safe for themselves. I think people could even understand the Christians of Egypt not wanting to risk their own lives for the sake of a religion and community that has in the past been openly hostile towards them and through legislation tries to make their lives as difficult as possible. I think It could also be understood that a community that has the extreme wings of the Islamists could have become an object of hate for them. But these Christians at considerable danger to themselves are living out the teachings of Christ, loving their neighbour, serving their neighbours loving those who have hated them for their love of Christ and with no real reward for themselves. To create a human shield to try and protect their Muslim neighbours takes real conviction and a love like that of Jesus.

Matthew 10:22 (NIV)
     All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

We have been told, taught and warned that because of our love for the Lord we will be the object of hate. But through the strength we are given through Christ we can stand firm and be safe in the knowledge that Christ sees our actions and will reward us for our faith. Those of us who can stand firm in the face of adversity and love our fellow man will be saved. The truth that we need to remember is that we can all stand firm if we rely on the power and strength of Christ instead of our own strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
     I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Egypt as they go through this troubled and violent time. My prayers are that this situation can be solved with the least amount of further bloodshed and violence. I also pray that whatever the outcome of the unrest in Egypt right now that the result will be a country that is free open and democratic, a country that is respectful of all people regardless of their religion. I also pray that we can all learn from the example set by these brave Christians as they live out their beliefs and the teachings of Christ that we too can do the same in whatever circumstance we find ourself in even if we have to place ourselves at risk to do so.

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