Notes from another country part 5
I’ve been leading a small Cornhill missions team this last week. We’ve been abroad somewhere hot and somewhere increasingly difficult to be a Christian. It’s probably not appropriate for me to say where (or necessary, even) because I don’t want to put believers at risk. But, as ever, my heart has been stirred and my faith has been challenged by being with believers from a different culture. For sure, other cultures have their blind spots – and they are painfully obvious. But, more to the point, being with Christians in another culture allows us to see our own blind spots more clearly. And it’s this I want to write about this week.
We need to stop wallowing in self-pity. Period.
We have this rather curious notion that Christians in the UK are being persecuted. I just want to say: can we not call it that, please? It is undoubtedly harder to be a Christian in the UK than it has been for some time. But we are not being persecuted. Not really. To claim that we are does a great disservice to brothers and sisters around the world for whom daily persecution and facing death all day long is a reality.
The trouble is that when we convince ourselves that our persecution is real and deep, our reaction is to wallow in self pity. And that’s ugly. I have met several pastors here for whom church burning, threat of death and family reprisals are a reality. The one thing you never see in them is self-pity. I see all kinds of reactions and emotions, but – on the whole – these are godly and honourable. They don’t even ask to pray that persecution would stop: rather that they would endure (a lesson for every church prayer meeting back home!). Having to change the way we run our B&B seems rather inconsequential in comparison.
Perhaps I am being too harsh. I am not suffering back home, and there are some whose very livelihoods are on the line. So forgive me if I have spoken out of turn. Nevertheless, there is a kind of persecution complex that we all rather like and embrace. As long as it’s not too dangerous that is. It gives us the chance to be the centre of attention for once. Never mind brothers and sisters around the world.
As if our troubles are anything in comparison.