Thursday, January 16, 2014


Watching the evening news on TV is depressing.  It seems at times that the whole Middle East and all of Central Africa is filled with continual conflict.  Muslims killing Muslims, Muslims killing Christians.  And what is even worse, Christians killing Muslims.

For many years I have followed the news from The Voice of the Martyrs -- news of persecution and martyrdom, how followers of Christ are harassed, murdered and imprisoned by those who are enemies of the Gospel -- Muslims, Communists, even Hindus and Buddhists.  Uni and I pray regularly for the persecuted Church in those nations where it is ostracized, even outlawed.

But what is the most heart-breaking came out on the news the other evening:  the Muslim dictator of the Central African Republic has been deposed.  Good riddance we might say, Praise the Lord!  Under his government, the minority Muslims population, ran roughshod over the Christian population, killing, burning, driving many away from their homes.  Now the shoe is on the other foot.

We see instead men (and a few women) shrieking into the camera, waving guns and machetes screaming for vengeance.  The newsman tells us that these are "Christian" militia.  These men have amulets hanging around their necks that we're told are magic.  It seems that the word "Christian" is repeated over and over.  It rings in our ears and sounds worse than the worst profanity.  We wish it could be beeped out.

One man waves his gun and knife in the air as he faces the camera.  He tells us excitedly how he pulled a Muslim man off the bus that was passing by, how he slit the man's throat, how he poured gasoline all over this man and how he set him on fire (apparently while still alive).  His excitement seems to increase as he tells what came next.  "I ate his leg!"  This man is regarded as a hero by his companions.

And the reporter keeps repeating the word "Christian" as he explains how these people have been oppressed and now they are out for blood.

Wait!  I say to myself, as I try to wrap my mind around what I've witnessed.  These people aren't Christians -- they're pagans!  Look at all that pagan stuff hanging around their necks and adorning their bodies.  Why does he keep calling them Christians?

But maybe they are.  Is that possible?  They've been persecuted for years; they've suffered the attacks of their Muslim neighbors.  Who could blame them for taking up arms to defend themselves and their families?

Yes, but Christians don't do what these people are doing.  Didn't Jesus tell us to love our enemies?  Didn't He tell us to turn the other cheek?  What gives?

I try to comfort myself by telling myself that these people are Christians in name only, that they've been "Christianized" but not genuinely converted.  Well, maybe.  Probably.

Then I think of Christians in America.  We have groups that call themselves "Christian Militia" here as well; we don't need to go to Africa.  Hate groups, racist groups, cross-burners, "sovereign citizens," all spouting hate in the name of Christ.  Again we can comfort ourselves by saying the same about these groups as we do about those in Africa:  they're not really Christians.  But what about the hatred and violence spouted by some nice Christian people we know?  What about the racism and political extremism?  What about the cruel things we say about those in a different economic class, sexual orientation or political preference?

We might even try to understand those in other lands by recognizing that they are products of a pagan culture (thought this is no excuse), but what about American Christians?  How much are we products of our "pagan" culture"  I'm afraid that like those cannibalistic Christians in Central Africa, our worldview is shaped as much (or more) by the culture around us.

Culture can be to some extent neutral; but there are elements of every culture that are diametrically opposed to the way of Jesus.  We who claim to be His followers, must distinguish those elements and put them away from our thinking and behavior.

As I write this, many things come to mind:  our politics, our entertainment, even our education.  I was tempted to make a list, but that would be counter-productive; it could be legalistic.  But I do challenge everyone who claims to follow Jesus to recognize those elements and put them out of our lives.

"Stop being conformed to this age,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Romans 12:2


Shay said...

I understand what you are saying. The various things you have said to yourself such as "they must not really be Christians...true Christians wouldn't act like that" are things my husband and I have told ourselves as well.

I asked Jesus into my life over 35 years ago. Countless things have happened. Healing that I didn't even know I needed, began at that time... and He will continue to work in me until the day I physically die.

He's also working in His other children. Like you mentioned, many people who call themselves Christians... aren't. I agree. Many, however, may very well be Christians - but are at a stage of development that makes a person wonder if "they" are even saved. There have been so many times that I wanted to "hang up" the towel as I desired to give up on the Christian community.

One day I actually sat on some steps and contemplated that very thing. Then God reminded me that it's not my place to know those other peoples hearts. I can't possibly know them. But I can continue in His Word and let His Holy Spirit continue to work in me.

Thank you for your blog. May God continue to work in both your life as well as your wife's.

God Bless You

Bill Ball said...

Thanks Shay for your comments and your honesty.
Years ago when I taught at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, I had a student named Shay. Could that be you?

Trent said...

As you clearly state, we "hope" that they are not believers, and we can clearly state that IF they are, they do not love God nor follow his commandments, but we must thank God that our eternal life is based on what Jesus Christ did, not what we do/did. Your bringing the point home to how in this country we can sin grievously as well is pertinent and the same point applies. We must allow people the freedom and liberty to live their lives whether we agree or not with them. Of course we should tell them about Jesus, but trying to force people to live a certain way or punish them is counter productive and something out government is also getting way to involved with. (and has been way before Obama)