We Are All under Obligation to Help the Persecuted Church

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by Max Aplin

We Christians are a family. If family members are in trouble, the others should rally round to help. This is especially the case when the trouble is not caused by any wrongdoing but is actually the result of doing what is right.

We see costly Christian care and concern for fellow believers often on the pages of the Bible. For example, in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:34-35 we are told that in the first years of the church Christians who had possessions sold them so that they could give to fellow believers who were in need. We learn too of the money the apostle Paul took a lot of time and effort to collect from the churches he had founded, in order to help the poor Christians in Judea (Rom 15:25-28; 1 Cor 16:1-3; 2 Cor 8-9; Gal 2:10). Just as impressive is the passage in Hebrews 10:32-34, where the author commends his readers for having helped persecuted believers, even when it cost them dearly.

There are large numbers of our family members in terrible trouble today, suffering severe persecution, especially in many of the predominantly Muslim countries but elsewhere too. They are literally being murdered, driven from their homes and imprisoned in squalid conditions. Many live wondering when armed thugs are going to come and get them.

Even more frequent are the cases of lower level persecution where Christians are denied employment or places at universities etc. because of their faith.

Those of us who are part of the same Christian family are all under obligation to do what we can to help. Too often in Western countries there seems to be a self-centred attitude among believers that only rarely looks beyond the borders of the country in which they live. This is surely deeply displeasing to God, and is strikingly different from the attitude we see throughout the New Testament. None of us must think that the troubles of the persecuted church are someone else’s concern.

The command in Hebrews 13:3 is one that God gives to us all: ‘Remember the prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and those who are badly treated as people who are also in a body.’ Obviously this command is relevant for all other forms of persecution too.

And let us note Colossians 4:18, where Paul appeals to his readers, ‘Remember my chains.’ I think there are many thousands of Christians who would say something similar to us if they could.

So, what can we do to help?

First of all, we can pray fervently and persistently in an informed way.

Second, we can put pressure on politicians. It is a fact that some of the Western countries, especially the United States, carry a lot of influence in world politics. If we pressurise local politicians to put further pressure on those in higher authority, sometimes this can result in influence being successfully brought to bear on the governments of countries where persecution of Christians is severe. Acting in this way will not be for every Christian, but I would encourage those who read this to prayerfully consider if God might want them to be involved in this form of ministry.

Third, we can help financially. In this respect, I would like to mention Barnabasfund (www.barnabasfund.org) or the equivalent organisation in North America, Barnabasaid (www.barnabasaid.org).

This is an aid agency that financially helps persecuted believers who are in difficulties that have been specifically caused by their Christian faith. There is a great need for help of this kind and Barnabas is well placed to distribute funds wisely. It is also an excellent place to get up-to-date information about how to pray for the persecuted church.

Of course, some of those who are persecuted for professing a Christian faith will not be genuinely born again. Yet to hesitate to give financial help because people might not be genuine Christians is in no way justifiable:

First, just because someone is not a real Christian would hardly be a good reason for not helping them. We are under obligation to love everyone, including nominal believers. In fact, practically loving those whose faith is not real will surely lead some to a genuine faith and relationship with God.

Second, we need to recognise that we are usually not in a position to say if professing Christians we don’t know personally are really born again or not. Imagine how awful it would be to guess that some people were not genuine believers, and not to help them, only to find out when we meet the Lord that they were genuine after all.

Third, there are undoubtedly very many genuine Christians among those who are persecuted for professing Christian faith. Any Christian who is in touch with churches in places where persecution is strong will testify to the fact that many of those who say that they are believers really are, and obviously know God in a deep way.

Fourth, it is often precisely because Christians are genuine that they are persecuted. They have dared to stand up for Christ against all the odds humanly speaking, when if they had just stayed quiet they could have avoided persecution.

Refusing to help the persecuted church, then, because there will be some nominal believers among their number is inexcusable.

I would encourage everyone who reads this to prayerfully consider what you are doing to help persecuted Christians. It’s not someone else’s job to look out for them. It’s all of ours. At the very least keep them regularly in your prayers. And ask God if He wants you to help in other ways too.

I have been a Christian for over 25 years. I have a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh. I am a UK national and I currently live in the south of Scotland.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS

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