You are here: Home Articles Weekly Insight

Things to think about

Middle East Christians Wiped Out

by Donald Geddes — last modified Apr 18, 2015 10:00 PM
Christianity came to the Middle East at the same time Paul took it to countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Now, with the conflict in Syria worsening, there is the very real possibility that Christianity in this region will be wiped out.

After four years of fighting, conditions have worsened dramatically and violence continues to escalate. Four million Syrians have fled into neighbouring countries, another 7.6 million are displaced within Syria and an entire generation of children is growing up with no experience of a peaceful existence.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians across Iraq and Syria have been killed or have fled their homes as Islamic State advances.

A quarter of the total Christian population are now refugees in neighbouring countries and hundreds of thousands of other Syrian Christians are internally displaced within Syria.

Of course the Christian population of other regions has been wiped out in the past. One hundred years ago up to 3.75 million Christians (Armenians, Assyrians, and Ottoman Greeks) died in a massacre that stretched over just 30 years and which peaked in 1915.

North Africa was a strong Christian area until overrun by Muslims.

If the Christian presence in the Middle East is wiped out, as seems likely, how significant will this be? In terms of human thinking, such a prospect seems to be unthinkable. But is this the way God sees it?

Acts 8 reports how, after the death of Stephen, great persecution broke out against the Church in Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. We know this resulted in the Gospel being spread far and wide so the persecution served the purposes of God because those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went (v.4).

Even though this persecution emptied Jerusalem of Christians, we are told the Apostles remained. There is always a faithful remnant so God is not without His witnesses. No doubt the same will be true in Iraq and Syria where a number of Christian leaders are staying put.

We tend to think of the Christian Church in geographical terms but this is not how God sees it. We lament the destruction of historic church buildings but the real church is made up of Christian people. The buildings may be destroyed but the people of God cannot be wiped out.

In fact, persecution of Christians has historically resulted in the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the church.

Ultimately the true church will be gathered in heaven as Revelation 7:9-10 indicates: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

The other side of the coin is what happens to Islamic State. A political power based on violence cannot last. Empires and political powers come and go while the Universal Church remains.

Revelation 13 depicts the rampaging of the Beast who was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months… It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

This stresses that the attack on God’s People is for a limited duration because our Sovereign God sets the bounds. What is happening in Iraq and Syria must be seen in the light of God’s eternal purposes.

Easter: Farce or Force

by Donald Geddes — last modified Apr 05, 2015 07:11 PM
Nothing could be more insulting to God than if we celebrate Easter by adoration of the Easter Bunny and over-indulgence of chocolate Easter eggs.

The fact that people would make such a crass substitution  of a rabbit for the agonising death of His dear Son is incomprehensible. To be eating chocolate Easter Eggs instead of acknowledging the incalculable love of God that sent His son into this desperately needy world is the height of sinful rebellion.

In the death of Christ on the Cross we have the heart of the Gospel. It is a message of hope in a world wracked by evil, violence and despair. This incredible sacrifice is not to be mocked by substituting the Easter Bunny!

But it is the Resurrection of Christ that changes the course of history. This incredible miracle of coming back from the dead is the ultimate victory that makes the Gospel message so powerful and dynamic.

The enemies of the Gospel can do nothing but maim and kill. Islamic Fundamentalists are turning their unbridled hatred upon Christians. They drive them from their homes, demolish their churches, behead the men and enslave the women. Their aim is to wipe out Christianity.But they cannot! Because the ultimate victory belongs to the Resurrected Christ.

It is the Resurrection that enrages them. Why? Because Christianity worships a Risen Christ who is alive. Other religions worship a dead leader. Islamic State terrorists rage against Christians and kill and try to exterminate them because if they don’t their religion will seem to be inferior.

Fired with a burning hatred from Hell, they think they can win by destruction and death. But they are up against the power of God. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Fanatical Islamic hatred can never prevail against Divine Love. Killing can never bring forgiveness and eternal life.

Easter reminds us that we have the greatest Good News in the world. It is a message that millions in despair need to hear. We serve a Risen Saviour! Hallelujah!

Banish the Easter Bunny and instead of wasting money on Easter Eggs, give the money to help suffering Christians in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.