Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

THEME: LABOR DAY, 8-DAY LENT

Volume 4 No. 234 August 29, 2014

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Seventh-Century Rabban Hormizd Monastery Overlooks the Nineveh Plains in Iraq
Seventh-Century Rabban Hormizd Monastery Overlooks the Nineveh Plains in Iraq

Carved into a mountainside, the seventh-century Rabban Hormizd monastery overlooks the Nineveh Plains. Christians have lived in the area continuously since the first century. But in the past decade, more than two-thirds of Iraq's estimated 1.5 million have fled.  See the article below. (photo: J.B. Russell, Panos)

TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

2. Sermons for This Sunday (August 31)

Sermons For the Third Sunday After Shunoyo

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-Shunoyo.htm

3. The Temple Tax: A Bible Study Based on Matthew 17:22-27

This should be a lesson to us, that we should seek to obey the laws and customs of the land in which we live (assuming, of course, that there be nothing unlawful in the eyes of God in them), in order not to put any stumbling blocks in the way of nonbelievers. ...

4. Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 17:22-27

Jesus acted out of love. Because Jesus was the Son of God, he did not have to pay temple tax at all. However, Jesus paid the tax "so that he did not give offense to the tax collectors." (Matthew 17:27a). For Jesus, everybody is God's child. Jesus loved God and loved God's people. He made the decision to pay temple tax out of love. ...

LABOR DAY

5. Labor Day: Your Need for Both Work and Rest

In both the physical and spiritual realm God has given us the pattern of work and rest. In the physical realm, we need to learn the rhythms of work and rest. It is a godly thing to do whatever God has called us to do with all our might as unto the Him, and it is godly to rest from our work and undergo a physical and spiritual re-creation. ...

6. Do You Think Biblically about Your Work?

Work is one of the most significant parts of our lives. Of the 168 hours we are given each week, most of us will spend at least 40 at the workplace. Many spend closer to 60 or 70, sometimes juggling two jobs or more. One of the most pressing questions for a Christian to answer, then, is, "How do I think biblically about work?" ...

NATIVITY OF ST. MARY

7. O Noble Virgin! by St. Athanasius

O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all. O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides. Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits? ...

8. The True Nobility of the Mother of God - St. Lawrence on St. Mary

She is full of grace, because she is the crown of sanctity among men and Angels. But again, since grace is opposed to sin, and vice and light is opposed to darkness and eliminates the darkness of sin, this threefold symbol of light designates a threefold grace against three sins: original, mortal, and venial. ...

9. More Resources For Study and Reflection During 8-Day Lent

The 8-Day Lent (Nativity Lent for St. Mary) will begin on September 1 and ends on September 8. Malankara World has a Supplement that has a wealth of information on St. Mary. You can access it here:

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

Malankara World Journal has a series of issues one for each day of the 8 day lent that is suitable for meditation and reflection. The links are provided in the journal below. ...

NEWS

10. First Apostolic Visit of the Patriarch to The Malankara Archdiocese of North America

East Hanover, NJ on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 6 PM. See details. ...

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN MIDDLE EAST

11. Washington Summit to Call Attention to Plight of Christians in the Middle East

The deteriorating situation facing millions of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East will be the focus of a bipartisan and ecumenical conference from September 9-11 in Washington, DC. The three-day event sponsored by In Defense of Christians (IDC) will feature speakers from all over the globe. ...

12. Iraqi Christians Weigh Taking Up Arms Against the Islamic State

Of all the many ancient peoples who once lived in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq's Assyrian Christians pride themselves on having persisted in their traditional homeland for millennia, even as other civilizations thrived then disappeared, as languages and cultures died out, as ethnic groups melted into the ways and genetic pools of their conquerors. But today Iraq's Assyrians, and its Christians in general, fear that their place in this multiethnic, multi-sectarian mosaic society is shrinking, under severe threat from the ultraconservative Islamist group the Islamic State (IS). ...

13. Why Indifference to the Mass Execution of Christians is 'Obscene'

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, asked "Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?"

That's a great question. ...

14. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 31)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_3rd_sunday-after-shunoyo.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (August 31)
This Week's Features

The Temple Tax: A Bible Study Based on Matthew 17:22-27
Scripture:

22 When they came together in Galilee, He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life." And the disciples were filled with grief.

24 After Jesus and His disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"

25 "Yes, He does," he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" He asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes - from their own sons or from others?"

26 "From others," Peter answered.

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27 "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." - Matthew 17:22-27

Discussion

Jesus once again spoke to His disciples concerning His death and resurrection: "When they came together in Galilee, He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.' And the disciples were filled with grief" (vss. 22–23).

We cannot help but notice how Jesus repeatedly spoke of His death and resurrection to the disciples. It was, of course, necessary to prepare them for this painful trial that they were to experience, and to speak of it ahead of time, so that the disciples would know that it was not unexpected: that the death and resurrection of Jesus was all part of God's plan. "Christ now was chiefly devoting His time and attention to His disciples, revealing, as they became spiritually ready, deep truths about Himself, His Church, and the future" [Griffith Thomas, 262]. "Their minds were far too receptive of other notions in reference to His kingdom, and therefore He set before them the truth again and again, almost in the same words. He would banish all dreams of a worldly monarchy from their souls. His death would be a grievous trial to them, and He would prepare them for it" [Spurgeon, 241].

"After Jesus and His disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, 'Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?' 'Yes, He does,' he replied" (vs. 25).

The temple tax of those times fulfilled for the people the requirement that they pay to the temple atonement money, as commanded in Exodus 30:11–16. Jesus, being sinless, would be exempt from such a payment, for He needs no atonement. Peter, though, answered in the affirmative that, yes, Jesus did pay the temple tax. It seems that this was a bit of a fib, for it seems to be implied in the next few verses that Jesus had not been paying the tax..

"When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. 'What do you think, Simon?' He asked. 'From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes - from their own sons or from others?' 'From others,' Peter answered. 'Then the sons are exempt,' Jesus said to him" (vss. 25–26).

Here we have a case of Jesus "knowing our needs before we ask" (see Matt. 6:8). Peter was most likely trying to think of a way to broach the subject of paying the temple tax. Jesus brought up the subject Himself. In addition to not needing to make payment for atonement, there is another reason Jesus did not need to pay the temple tax: Jesus is the Son of God. Peter himself well knew and believed this (see Matt. 16:16).

Jesus chose not to seek a confrontation with the temple official concerning this matter: "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours" (vs. 27).

Jesus did not want to put unnecessary stumbling blocks to prevent anyone from believing in Him, so He paid the tax, even though He had every right, as the Son of God, to be exempt from it. "Some would have said that He did not keep the law, did not perform a recognized duty of every Israelite, and so He certainly could not be the Messiah … Matthew probably recorded this incident to show his Jewish readers on the one hand that Jesus felt Himself entitled to the respect due to the Messiah, and on the other, that He was very careful to keep the law in all respects, so that no Jew had a right to stumble at Him" [Broadus, 380].

This should be a lesson to us, that we should seek to obey the laws and customs of the land in which we live (assuming, of course, that there be nothing unlawful in the eyes of God in them), in order not to put any stumbling blocks in the way of nonbelievers. "Our Lord's example in this case deserves the attention of all who profess and call themselves Christians. There is deep wisdom in those five words, 'lest we should offend them.' They teach us plainly that there are matters in which Christ's people ought to sink their own opinions, and submit to requirements which they may not thoroughly approve, rather than give offense and 'hinder the Gospel of Christ'" [Ryle, 217].

Jesus certainly chose an unusual way to pay the tax. "This was the only miracle worked in any sense for His own benefit (cf. Matt. 4:4), and even this was primarily for the sake of others" [Griffith Thomas, 264]. Ironically, the way He chose to pay the tax, strengthened His case for not paying it, for He demonstrated His almighty rule over Creation. "He makes a dumb creature bring the tribute-money to meet the collector's demand" [Ryle, 216].

Note, it is significant that Jesus also paid Peter's atonement money, not just His own. He was soon to pay for the atonement of all of us, at much greater cost. "Far greater and deeper truths lie slumbering down below. They are such as these: the glorious freedom of the Son, His coming under tribute for our sakes, and the clearance of Himself and us by the one payment which He Himself provided" [Spurgeon, 244].

Source: scripturestudies.com

Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 17:22-27

by biblepreacher

On July 4th our church went to the Todos Santos Park and served the community with music and love. But why did we decide to go out into the park? Behind every decision, there is a guiding principle. Our guiding principle is the biblical "wisdom," which is the "fear of God." In the Bible, "fear of God" means "respect and love" of God. In other words, behind every decision that we make daily, we have this confession that "God is our King!" On the Independence Day, we went out to proclaim that God, not any other country or person, but God is the King of our country!

In the Bible Jesus shows us three ways to proclaim that God is the King in all the decisions that we make daily. First, Jesus had faith in God and he was willing to die for you and me and to forgive those who betrayed him. Jesus said, "The son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands and they will kill him and on the third day he will be raised." If we believe that God is in control, we can die in the faith that God will raise us up. We can forgive those who hurt us and betray us believing that God is going to make things right. We can sacrifice our rights with the faith in God's justice.

We know that the disciples "were greatly distressed." (Matthew 17:23c). Because we love to control our own situations and want to be our own lords it is stressful to trust God and put things in God's hands.

Secondly, Jesus acted out of love. Because Jesus was the Son of God, he did not have to pay temple tax at all. However, Jesus paid the tax "so that he did not give offense to the tax collectors." (Matthew 17:27a). For Jesus, everybody is God's child. Jesus loved God and loved God's people. He made the decision to pay temple tax out of love.

Thirdly, Jesus shared his power with others. Jesus commanded Peter to go out and catch a fish. When Peter opened the mouth of the fish he found a coin. Jesus wanted to use the coin to pay tax "for Jesus and for Peter." (Matthew 17: 27f). He paid the tax for Peter also. In that way, Jesus showed that we should share what we have with others if we want to proclaim that God is the King. Last Wednesday, our mission committee decided to sponsor our Spanish speaking ministry among us. So we shared our music and love.

We have this vision of the Kingdom of God, a community of love where everybody feels to be loved and respected. For that vision, we should have wisdom, which is expressed through faith, love, and action. I pray that when we make our daily decision, we should remember that God is in control!

1. What are the things or situations that make you doubt God's love and power for you?

2. What are the means to restore and recover your faith and wisdom daily?

3. What can you share with others with the faith in God ?

Source: Biblepreacher's Blog

Labor Day: Your Need for Both Work and Rest

by Nick Batzig

As we come to celebrate another Labor Day, it may be beneficial for us to step back for a moment and consider what Scripture has to say about the rhythm of work and rest - i.e. the cyclical configuration by which all the events of our lives occur. Learning the theology of work and rest is one of the greatest challenges of our own day. Many of us have adopted faulty views of work, and therefore have faulty views of rest. We are commanded to do all the work that needs to be accomplished every week in the six days that follow, and lead up to, the glorious day of rest. Then we are commanded to rest. This rhythm of work and rest is both a creational and a new-creational (i.e. redemptive) ordinance. The suffix to the 4th commandment in Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:15 teaches us this. God commanded His people to rest one day in seven because He rested from the work of creation and because He redeemed them from the hand of their enemies. In short, we need to learn to work hard at learning to work as unto the Lord and we need to learn to work hard at learning to cease from our labors, by resting in the finish work of Christ.

Work is one of the most important of the creation ordinances. Before the fall - work was pleasant. God charged Adam with the task of taking the Garden out and turning the world into the Garden. Adam embraced the command to dress and keep the Garden with a sense of satisfaction and delight. When sin entered the world, God cursed the ground and promised our first father that work would now be burdensome. Thorns and thistles made man's labors difficult and unpleasant. Now, man must eat by the sweat of his brow.

In addition to the burden placed upon man's labors, the fall also brought about imbalanced and perverted views of work. After the fall, men began to work for their own glory. Cain built a city and named it after his son (Gen. 4:17). Man turned inward and therefore began to work for all the wrong reasons. We see this worked out in our own day in the way in which we have lost the idea of vocation (i.e. calling). Most people in America today view a job first and foremost as a mean to an end (i.e. a way to get provisions, possessions, pleasures, etc.). Because the idea of vocation has been lost, people now jump from job to job throughout the course of their lives. If we viewed our work under the rubric of God's calling, we would be more apt to settle into whatever lawful work God has gifted and called us to do - and, we would seek to do it for His glory. The garbage man - who picks up trash to better the community and to bear witness to the goodness and greatness of God - is fulfilling his vocation as unto the Lord. Fulfilling the mandate from our God to be fruitful for His glory must be the ultimate goal of our labors rather than merely seeking after a fruitful retirement. As John Calvin so helpfully wrote:

We know that men were created for the express purpose of being employed in labor of various kinds, and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when every man applies himself diligently to his own calling, and endeavors to live in such a manner as to contribute to the general advantage.

The other dilemma with which we are faced in our own day is that most of us do not know how to cease from working. In his sermon “Work and Rest,” Tim Keller offers several suggestions as to why there is such a heightened sense of obligation for us to overwork today. He explains:

A. Jobs (even whole departments) if they don't perform - and if they don't turn profit - are eliminated. There has never been a culture where job security has been so bad.

B. It used to be that people at the top of the company used to make 10 or 20 times what people at the bottom of the company make; now, it's more like 100 to 200 times. And partly as a result of this, people who make large amounts of money are expected to put in enormous numbers of hours. If you don't want to do it, there's a line behind you. Whereas people on the bottom are having to take multiple jobs. So everybody's overworked. It doesn't matter where you are on the scale. In order to make ends meet, they have to take multiple jobs.

C. Then there's technology. You can work anywhere - which means now, we work everywhere! It means you can't stop work from spilling out of every nook and cranny of your life.

D. Whereas traditional societies said that you got your meaning in life through your family, and through basically fulfilling a fairly prescribed social role - either as a mother or father, or a brother or sister, or husband or wife, or a son or a daughter…You just needed to find a way to make a living because family was what everything was about. But we're the first culture in history that says, ‘You define yourself by defining what you want to be and by attaining it - and then you have significance.' There's never been more psychological and social and emotional pressure on work to be either fulfilling or at least lucrative. There's never been a culture like that.

A, B and C mean that we are more desperately in need of rest than we ever have been, but less time than ever. D means that we, emotionally on the inside, have less ability to rest than ever.

Of course, the larger picture of the pattern of working and resting is seen in the spiritual realm. Prior to the fall, Adam was called to work for confirmed righteousness and life. If he had obeyed, and had not eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he would have entered into the everlasting Sabbath rest that lay before him. The Sabbath day was a promise of something better (Heb. 4:1-11). After the fall, man was to learn to trust in Christ alone for salvation. The Sabbath laws in the Mosaic economy were so strict because they reflected what a man thought about salvation - namely, whether he thought it was by his own labors, or whether it was entirely by grace through faith. Just as God commanded the Israelites to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13), so God commands His people to cease working on the Lord's Day and “see the salvation of the Lord in the finished work of Christ.'

Jesus is our Sabbath rest in that he has taken the curse of Adam and the Law upon Himself. Jesus sweat great drops of blood as he entered into the work of redemption. He was crowned with the crown of thorns when he suffered for our sin. He died on the cross. Jesus bore the curse when He became a curse for us at the cross. Then he rested from His work by lying in the tomb, dead on the Old Covenant Sabbath Day. Just as He had created the world and looked back over all his work and said, “It is good,” so too did He carried out the work of redemption, looked back over it and cried, “It is finished.” Now, by faith in Christ we enter in our Sabbath rest and will do so fully and finally in the consummation. He says to us, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28).

In both the physical and spiritual realm God has given us the pattern of work and rest. In the physical realm, we need to learn the rhythms of work and rest. It is a godly thing to do whatever God has called us to do with all our might as unto the Him, and it is godly to rest from our work and undergo a physical and spiritual re-creation.

About The Author:

Nick Batzig has written numerous articles for Tabletalk Magazine, Reformation 21, and is published in Jonathan Edwards and Scotland (Dunedin, 2011) Nick is also a regular panelist on Christ the Center, a podcast of The Reformed Forum, the host of East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards and the editor of The Christward Collective.

Commentary on the Harmony of the Evangelists, vol. 2, Edinburgh, 1845, p. 144 (ad loco Lk. 10:38).

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Do You Think Biblically about Your Work?

By Brian G. Hedges

Work is one of the most significant parts of our lives. Of the 168 hours we are given each week, most of us will spend at least 40 at the workplace. Many spend closer to 60 or 70, sometimes juggling two jobs or more. One of the most pressing questions for a Christian to answer, then, is, "How do I think biblically about work?"

Created to work

The first thing to remember is that we were made for work. Work is implicit in the "cultural mandate," the command given by God to the first man, recorded Genesis 1:28-31. Human beings were created in the image of God for the purpose of subduing the earth, ruling over the created order as the vicegerents of God. In the words of J. I. Packer, "Man was made to manage God's world, and this stewardship is part of the human vocation in Christ. It calls for hard work, with God's honor and the good of others as its goal." Labor is, therefore, one of the most important ways in which we bear God's image, for God himself is a God who works (Gen. 2:2-3). "In contrast to Greek mythology, where the gods live a life of celestial loafing, the Bible pictures God himself as a ceaseless worker." As John Stott writes, "Our potential for creative work is an essential part of our godlikeness."

This biblical perspective shows the essential value and dignity of human work. In Genesis 2:15 we learn that after creating Adam, God put him in "the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Even in the pristine, unspoiled pre-fallen world, man had work to do. "God has deliberately arranged life in such a way that he needs the cooperation of human beings for the fulfillment of his purposes," observes Stott. "He did not create the planet earth to be productive on its own; human beings had to subdue and develop it. He did not plant a garden whose flowers would blossom and fruit ripen on their own; he appointed a gardener to cultivate the soil. We call this the 'cultural mandate' which God gave to humankind. 'Nature' is what God gives us; 'culture' is what we do with it."

This means that any attempt to shirk work, either through thievery, desperate attempts to get rich quickly (lottery, anyone?), or through mooching off others in lives of indolence, are wrong-headed from the start.

The purposes of work

Work is is both commanded and commended in Scripture. The command to work, for example, is implicit in the Ten Commandments (as the fourth commandment begins, "six days shall you labor, and do all your work," Ex. 20:9) and explicit in the apostolic writings ("Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need," Eph. 4:28).

The whole of Scripture commends honest labor, viewing it as a source of personal satisfaction (Eccl. 3:22), the means of providing for our families (1 Tim. 5:8), benefiting others (Eph. 4:28) and especially as a serving the Lord, as we do everything in word and deed in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17, 23-24). Weaving these purposes for work together, John Stott defines work as "the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfilling to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God."

Work in a fallen world

But we all know that real life in the workaday world is often complicated, frustrating and unfulfilling. Work problems are real: stress, job dissatisfaction, unemployment, the question of fair wages, and other ethical concerns demand careful consideration that moves beyond the mandate of Genesis 1, but without losing sight of it.

The ultimate reason for the complexity of work and its attendant problems is the sin, reaching back to the fall of man in Genesis 3. Part of the five-fold curse following the fall is the curse on the ground, which now bears thorns and thistles, so that man now eats his bread "by the sweat of [his] face" (Gen. 3:18-19). Work, in other words, is now fraught with obstacles and etched with frustrations. As someone once quipped, "man was meant to be a gardener, but by reason of his sin he became a farmer." Work after the fall is not simply the creative work of construction and cultivation. We must now also push back against the effects of the fall. There are constant obstacles to overcome with the forces of entropy, disintegration, and decay constantly working against us. Work now involves not only planting, but weeding; not simply doing, but undoing. Like Jeremiah the prophet, we often have "to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow" before we can "build and … plant" (Jer. 1:10).

To use the lament of Ecclesiastes, "What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity." (Eccl. 2:22-23). Work, like childbirth is not only joy, involves labor. The problems of job-related stress, unjust labor laws, et cetera, are an index to our present condition: life in a fallen world.

The redemption of work

But the Scriptures also look forward to the final redemption and restoration of the created order, including the realm of work. In Isaiah 65, for example, the prophet records God's promise of a "new heavens and a new earth" (v. 17) where

(his people) shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity
… (Isa 65:21-23a)

This hope of new creation is picked up in multiple places in the New Testament (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21-22). The apostles viewed Jesus' resurrection from the dead as the inaugural event in new creation, with Jesus himself as the firstfruits of the harvest and the gift of his Spirit as the guarantee that final redemption is coming. And its in this very context, having given his most eloquent and theologically rich defense of the resurrection, that Paul says to the early Christians, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58, emphasis added).

Though we continue to labor in a fallen world, we no longer labor without hope, but with the unshakable confidence that our work, done in service to the Lord Jesus, counts.

About The Author:

Brian G. Hedges is the author of several books including 'Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life'. Brian and his family live in South Bend, Indiana. Brian also blogs at www.brianghedges.com

References:

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1993), p. 236

"Work, Working," in Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G., ed., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 965. This article presents a well-rounded biblical theology of work that has informed the structure and content of my post.

John Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today, 4th edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) p. 219.

Stott, pp. 222-223

Stott, p. 225.

W. F. Forrester, quoted in Ryken, et all, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.

"In the story of the Fall woman's pain in giving birth (Gen 3:16) parallels the curse on work (Gen 3:17). The Hebrew word for toil and pain in these verses is the same, and Forrester notes that "in language after language the same word is used for toil and child-bearing, e.g., 'labour' and 'travail.'" (Ibid.)

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

O Noble Virgin!

by St. Athanasius

O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all. O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides. Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits? You surpass them, for it is written: "The earth is my footstool" (Is 66:1). But you carry within you the feet, the head, and the entire body of the perfect God.

If I say that heaven is exalted, yet it does not equal you, for it is written: "Heaven is my throne" (ibid.), while you are God's place of repose. If I say that the angels and archangels are great—but you are greater than them all, for the angels and archangels serve with trembling the One who dwells in your womb, and they dare not speak in his presence, while you speak to him freely.

If we say that the cherubim are great, you are greater than they, for the cherubim carry the throne of God (cf. Ps 80:1; 99:1), while you hold God in your hands. If we say that the seraphim are great, you are greater than them all, for the seraphim cover their faces with their wings (cf. Is 6:2), unable to look upon the perfect glory, while you not only gaze upon his face but caress it and offer your breasts to his holy mouth….

As for Eve, she is the mother of the dead, "for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor 15:22). Eve took from the tree and made her husband eat of it along with her. And so they ate of that tree of which God had told them: "The day you eat of it, you shall die" (Gen 2:17). Eve took from it, ate some of it, and gave some to her husband with her. He ate of it, and he died.

In you, instead, O wise Virgin, dwells the Son of God: he, that is, who is the tree of life. Truly he has given us his body, and we have eaten of it. That is how life came to all, and all have come to life by the mercy of God, your beloved Son. That is why your spirit is full of joy in God your Savior!

Source: St. Athanasius, Fourth Century, 'Homily of the Papyrus of Turin,' ed. T. Lefort, in Le Muséon 71 (1958): 216-217.

The True Nobility of the Mother of God- St. Lawrence on St. Mary

by Dr. Joseph Almeida

St. Lawrence was a man of prodigious activity. He constantly obeyed the call of his Capuchin superiors for service to his own order, to the Church, and to the world. His work brought him into contact with the most noble persons of his era from princes of the Church to princes of state. Despite the demands of his duties, he never abandoned the call of the pulpit.

Above all else, preaching was St. Lawrence's real lifework. He preached everywhere and on all occasions, from prestigious pulpits in Europe to local parish churches. He prepared for each sermon in the same laborious way no matter how many times he had previously spoken on a topic. He would retire in seclusion before a picture of the Blessed Virgin, meditate on Scripture, jot down insights, and structure a written text around these thoughts.

Eyewitnesses have reported that his love of God and hatred for sin were palpable in his preaching. In the following excerpt from the same series of Lenten reflections presented in the previous two installments, St. Lawrence considers how St. John's vision of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars establishes the nobility of Mary as something extraordinarily greater than the nobility of the princes of this world.

In a characteristic spirit of fraternal love, St. Lawrence presents St. John's text to his audience as a place of hidden spiritual treasures:

My brothers, all of Scripture is indeed full of sacrosanct manifestations of God and divine apparitions. No vision, however, is more brilliant than the apparition of the Virgin to St. John. This was illuminative beyond measure, most splendid, brilliant, and glorious. Who can doubt that his apparition conceals many divine mysteries? These visions of the Virgin show her to be the most brilliant and most high Queen of the whole world, just as she, inspired by the Holy Spirit, predicted and prophesied about herself, when she said:

"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed: for he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name" (Lk 1:48-49).

Thus Mary appears as the Queen of Heaven. Almighty God, how wonderful a truth, how wonderful an adornment. Queens are accustomed to be adorned with silver, gold and precious gems. Mary, however, is not adorned with these, but with the sun, the moon and the stars, heavenly gold, heavenly silver and celestial gems.

The treasure that St. Lawrence found in this image was a revelation of the true nobility of Mary, which he expounds by distinguishing four senses of the word "heaven":

It is clear to everyone that light is a sign of innate nobility. Why is it that the most holy Virgin appears surrounded by such great light in heaven, if not that Scripture is declaring her to be the highest and most divine nobility of heaven. What heaven is this, however, in which this divine woman so brilliantly, so refulgently, so gloriously appears? Heaven sometimes designates the depths of the Divinity of God. Sometimes it designates this world. Sometimes it designates the Church. Sometimes it designates the paradise of the glory of God.

The Virgin Mother of God appeared in the heaven of Divinity, as an exemplary archetype of the universe through the mystery of predestination and election which refers to a period preceding secular time. She appeared in the heaven of this world when she received the enjoyment of this light, being born from the line and offspring of David. She appeared in the heaven of the Church through faith and grace divinely infused, sanctified in the manner of Angels, established as the temple of God. Finally she appeared in the heaven of Paradise after dwelling in this life, after having been assumed into the heavenly Jerusalem by Christ and carried across to the ethereal dwelling place. Her glory is eternal, and she was crowned with honor and established above all the works of God.

St. Lawrence continues his exposition by assigning four levels of nobility to Mary, one pertaining to each of these senses of heaven:

But noble did Mary appear in the heaven of the divine Mind! A portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, a luminary than which nothing is more lucid, nothing more splendid. Not only was she predestined and elected to glory with the Holy Angels, the chosen of God, and elected to the first and supreme degree of both grace and glory after Christ but also to the motherhood of God. Thus she appeared in that highest heaven as a woman clothed with the sun and having in her womb the only begotten Son of God. The sun-like light of St. John's vision is the dignity of the motherhood to which she was chosen. The sun is more splendid than the moon and indicates a superior position with respect to the excellence of grace. The crown of stars indicates the singular honor of this glory. O truly most noble predestination, an election marvelous and glorious beyond measure.

In the heaven of this world she appeared most splendid, shining in the light of nobility arising from a most pure and most noble birth, from the lineage and family of the most noble king, David. There are however other forms of nobility. There is the nobility of nature by which gold is more noble than silver, heaven than earth, Angels than men, God than Angels. There is the nobility of blood, which is a civil and political nobility arising from the riches of antiquity or illustrious and brilliant descent. There is further still a nobility arising from the goodwill, favor, and privileges granted by the highest princes.

Finally there is a nobility acquired through virtue. Mary was most noble in all these modes. She was noble in nature because she is a woman who was formed by the hand of God, not from dirt, but from the bone and flesh of man. She was noble in blood because her maternal decent was of Abraham, her paternal descent of David. She was ennobled through the divine union by which she became the true and natural mother of God. She was most noble in natural virtue, in zeal, judgment, prudence, industriousness, and fortitude of spirit.

In the heaven of the Church, she appeared surrounded by the most refulgent light of divine nobility. Thus God said three things about Mary through the vision of St. John, just as three things were said about her in the Gospel of St. Luke:

"Hail full of grace,"
"the Lord is with thee," and
"blessed art thou among women" (Lk 1:28, 42).

She is above all women: thus, the moon is under her feet.

The Lord is with her: thus, she is clothed with the Sun, for God is the sun of justice who dwells in inaccessible light.

She is full of grace, because she is the crown of sanctity among men and Angels. But again, since grace is opposed to sin, and vice and light is opposed to darkness and eliminates the darkness of sin, this threefold symbol of light designates a threefold grace against three sins: original, mortal, and venial.

Finally, in the heaven of glory, in the empyrean or the heavenly sphere, in Paradise, Mary appeared most noble and most glorious beyond all human estimation. She was crowned with glory and honor, first among the Saints, Queen of Angels, governess of all the Blessed, Lady of heaven, Empress of the universe. With public and solemn ceremony she was declared in heaven the true Spouse of God and the Genetrix and natural Mother of Christ the King of kings. When almighty God, King of kings, Lord of lords, led Mary into Paradise, he thus revealed and declared her to be the most glorious Queen of the heavenly Paradise.

Compared to the nobility of the princes of this world, who were no strangers to St. Lawrence's own experience, Mary possesses a true and supreme nobility. Thus he finishes his exposition of the treasury of Mary's nobility by referring them all to the one great and all encompassing precept:

"You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve" (Mt 4:10). True and perfect servitude to God is the highest kind of nobility. This is the highest nobility of the Angels and of this woman who is blessed of spirit.

About The Author:

Dr. Joseph Almeida is Professor of Classics at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The above article is the ninth in a series on the sermons of St. Lawrence of Brindisi on the Angelic Salutation. The series first appeared in the publication, Catholics United for the Faith.

Resources For Study and Reflection During 8-Day Lent

We celebrate the Nativity of Virgin Mary on September 8. To learn more about St. Mary, her life, and her role in the Church, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary.

This supplement includes an eBook on St. Mary written by our LL Holy Father, His Holiness our Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1, Iwas. You can also read the previous years' specials on St. Mary published by Malankara World Journal.

You can access Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary at:
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

 Last year Malankara World Journal Published a series of specials suitable for study, reflection and meditation on each day of the 8-Day Lent. You can read them here:

Volume 3 No 161: September 1, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 1

Volume 3 No 162: September 2, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 2

Volume 3 No 163: September 3, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 3

Volume 3 No 164: September 4, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 4

Volume 3 No 165: September 5, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 5

Volume 3 No 166: September 6, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 6

Volume 3 No 167: September 7, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 7

Volume 3 No 168: September 8, 2013
Theme: Nativity of Theotokos

Malankara World Library with devotionals, prayer, essays and sermons are available at:

Malankara World Library

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Default.htm

First Apostolic Visit of the Patriarch to The Malankara Archdiocese of North America
Reception to the Patriarch by MASOC
Washington Summit to Call Attention to Plight of Christians in the Middle East

IDC Summit in Washington DC

In Defense of Christians (IDC)
September 9-11, 2014
Starting at 05:00pm

Omni Shoreham Hotel,
2500 Calvert Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20008

Washington -- The deteriorating situation facing millions of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East will be the focus of a bipartisan and ecumenical conference from September 9-11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The three-day event sponsored by In Defense of Christians (IDC) will feature speakers from all over the globe.

The IDC Summit for Middle East Christians, whose theme is "Protecting and Preserving Christianity, Where It All Began", will be the first occasion in history where six Christian Patriarchs from the Middle East will gather together in the United States.

IDC President Toufic Baaklini said, "For too long, Westerners have stood by, silent or unaware, while Christians and other groups in the Middle East have endured discrimination, persecution, and religious cleansing. Today, as the Islamic State continues its genocidal campaign against Christians in Iraq and Syria, the globe is finally awakening to their plight. IDC exists to give voice to these voiceless people. In this hour of their greatest peril, they are in desperate need of support. We must act now."

Baaklini stated: "To this end, IDC is hosting a historic global Summit for Middle East Christians, September 9-11, in Washington, D.C. This summit will empower the Middle Eastern Christian Diaspora and energize the American people to stand in solidarity the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. Their survival is vital to stability in the region, and their ability to flourish in their countries of origin has national security implications for the United States."

Summit attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and their staff, policy makers, diplomats, human rights activists, and religious leaders. Speakers include: Syriac Patriarch HH Ignatius Aphrem II; Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Rai; Archbishop of Washington Donald Cardinal Wuerl; Leonardo Cardinal Sandri of the Vatican's Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches; Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX); Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL); Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Dr. James Zogby; and Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.

For more information and to register, visit:

http://www.idcsummit.org/register/ 

Iraqi Christians Weigh Taking Up Arms Against the Islamic State

By Rania Abouzeid, National Geographic

Dohuk, Iraq -- Of all the many ancient peoples who once lived in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq's Assyrian Christians pride themselves on having persisted in their traditional homeland for millennia, even as other civilizations thrived then disappeared, as languages and cultures died out, as ethnic groups melted into the ways and genetic pools of their conquerors.

But today Iraq's Assyrians, and its Christians in general, fear that their place in this multiethnic, multi-sectarian mosaic society is shrinking, under severe threat from the ultraconservative Islamist group the Islamic State (IS).

It isn't the first time that Iraq's Christians have faced such a foe. The IS's earlier incarnation, al Qaeda in Iraq--a group that formed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003--also menaced Christians, and others, prompting tens of thousands to flee into exile.

Now, the particularly harsh nature of the IS's assault on Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims, and others who do not share allegiance to the IS's brand of ultraconservative Sunni Islam has led some of Iraq's Christians to take the unusual step of shedding their historical passivity and consider taking up arms to defend and eventually govern themselves.

The Assyrian Patriotic Party, one of several Assyrian political organizations, has armed and dispatched a symbolic, rather than an active, force of some 40 members to join the Kurdish Peshmerga fighting the IS in the northwest of Iraq, according to party official Henry Sarkis.

The Peshmerga are the official forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government. It is the first such action by Iraqi Christians since some Christians fought briefly alongside the Kurds against Saddam Hussein.

Sarkis, 44, is the newly appointed branch chief of the party's office in Dohuk, a northern governorate in the semiautonomous Kurdish region that borders Syria and Turkey.

The 40 men constitute what Sarkis calls the "first wave," and the unit has adopted the name Dukha, an Assyrian word that means "sacrifice."

"We keep talking about Jesus and peace, and now we've reached the point where it's not enough," he said in an interview at his party's headquarters in Dohuk. "The age of waiting for the Peshmerga to take back territory while we sit is over. We took the decision that, with our limited abilities, we will try to participate."

The party bought weapons with money donated by members in the diaspora, Sarkis said, and is looking to raise more funds through donations to increase its stockpile.

Sarkis's men are mainly behind the front line, around the town of Sharfiyah, not so much fighting alongside the Peshmerga as holding territory the Kurdish forces have gained or are pushing forward from.

A Perilous Shift

Still, it marks a significant shift in the attitude of Iraq's Christians, a shift that's fraught with peril.

Since 2003, Iraq's Christian community has been viewed by other Iraqis as a passive victim of the country's many conflicts, not an active aggressor.

Taking up arms will make the Christians direct participants, armed targets who pose military rather than just ideological opposition to ultraconservative Islamist groups.

Sarkis acknowledges this but said his party is prepared to accept the consequences. "We're being killed in our homes, so why not defend ourselves? Then even if we die, we die with dignity," he said. "We didn't want to reach this point--we just want to live in our areas."

Before 2003, Iraq held about 1.5 million Christians. The number today is fewer than 500,000, say community leaders, the majority having been driven out by war and all the trouble it inflicts and breeds, including corruption and insecurity.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Shiites now make up 60 to 65 percent of Iraq's population, Sunnis 32 to 37 percent, and Christians just 0.8 percent. Most remaining Christians live on the Nineveh Plains, an area that is also home to other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, including the Yazidis and the Turkomans.

Fall of Mosul

On June 10, Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh governorate, in northern Iraq, fell to IS-led militants in a blitzkrieg advance. The IS was ruthless with its enemies, uploading videos of mass executions of soldiers and security forces they'd captured. The Iraqi Army melted away, rather than try to repel the incursion.

Weeks later, the Kurdish Peshmerga also retreated from some areas in the face of an IS-led onslaught. Kurdish troops are now fighting, with the aid of limited U.S. air strikes, to regain territory.

The IS gave Mosul's estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Christians three options: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or die. Instead they fled en masse to villages on the Nineveh Plains, as well as farther north into the Kurdish heartland.

As few as 40 Christians remain in Mosul, according to Duraid Tobiya, 53, an Assyrian from the city and an adviser on minority affairs to the governor of Nineveh.

He said that the few who stayed were too sick, too old, or too poor to leave--so much so that the IS exempted them from paying the jizya, a tax on non-Muslims.

"I'm from Mosul--this is the first time I've been displaced," Tobiya said. "I lived through everything else that happened in Mosul, but it's all very different from what's happening now."

This time, he said, he had no faith in either the Iraqi Army or the Kurdish Peshmerga to protect Christians and other minorities, such as the Yazidis and Turkomans, against a much more dangerous foe, because both forces initially abrogated their duties.

Iraq's Christians, like all of the country's sectarian communities, do not speak with one voice. There are numerous political parties with varying platforms.

The solution as Tobiya saw it, was one of two options: "either mass emigration or an internationally protected safe zone. We have no other options. We are against emigration, because we are not only the sons of this country but its original inhabitants."

All dozen or so Christians interviewed by National Geographic adamantly shared the demand for a safe zone, akin to the two no-fly zones the West established in 1992 to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from the forces of former leader Saddam Hussein.

But 1992 was a long time ago in terms of Western resources and commitment to the region--especially at a time when President Barack Obama's administration is trying to pivot away from the troubles of the Middle East. Still, Tobiya and others insisted it's a viable option.

"We must protect ourselves--and also have international protection," he said.

Long-term Plans

In another part of Dohuk, behind the high concrete walls of the Assyrian Democratic Movement's headquarters, the local branch leader, Farid Yacoub, 42, says his party too is moving to arm its men.

It is registering volunteers, having gathered more than 2,000 names from the Dohuk governorate alone. But unlike Assyrian Patriotic Party leaders, Yacoub is recruiting men to protect Christian areas after they've been won back from the IS and its allies.

The intention is not to participate in the battle to reclaim those areas. "We have lots who are volunteering, who want to fight, but we don't have the means to arm them," he said.

The party doesn't want Christian villages such as Al Hamdaniyah (Qaraqosh) to be controlled or protected by the Peshmerga after they've been reclaimed. "Our people don't trust them any more," Yacoub said.

There's a bigger issue here. Nineveh has long been caught in a conflict between the central government in Baghdad and the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north.

Some Christians on the Nineveh Plains have pushed to govern themselves, but Kurdistan also has claims on their territory and wants to absorb it into its zone.

Earlier this year, long before the country descended into the current level of mayhem and fragmentation, Baghdad "agreed in principle" to turn the Nineveh Plains, as well as two other areas, Fallujah and Tuzkhurmatu, into provinces. This would enable the Christians to manage their own affairs and secure an independent share of the national budget.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement doesn't want the Nineveh Plains to be part of Kurdistan, but Sarkis said his Assyrian Patriotic Party does.

Sarkis's men are working with the Peshmerga, independent of the national government's recent call for volunteers to fight the IS.

"Let's be honest," he said. "When the [Shiite-led] government asked for volunteers, it's because the war is sectarian, between Shiites and Sunnis. They didn't volunteer to protect Christians. They did so to fight Sunnis."

Yacoub, on the other hand, is not working with the Peshmerga and said his men are waiting for the central government to train and arm them, though with the proviso that they return to their areas.

"Our men said they were worried because they didn't want to defend areas other than theirs. We want to defend areas where our people are, specifically the Nineveh Plains," Yacoub said. "We're nationalists, but the circumstances that Iraq is living through now necessitate that we have a safe place, a place for us."

Turning to Lebanon's Christians

Of all the dwindling Christian communities in the Middle East in recent times, only the Lebanese have picked up arms during civil turmoil. Lebanese Christians battled not only Muslims but also each other during their country's brutal 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.

Duraid Tobiya, the adviser to the Nineveh governor, is also a member of Yacoub's Assyrian Democratic Movement. He said that since the fall of Mosul, his party had received a delegation from the Lebanese Forces, a militia turned political party, and had also sent representatives to Lebanon twice to meet with the party.

He didn't elaborate about the nature of the meetings, saying only that "we want to benefit from their experience. We explained our situation, and they explained their experience in Lebanon." He added, "We might proceed with some things, apply them on the ground."

Antoinette Geagea, a spokesperson for the Lebanese Forces in Beirut, confirmed the meetings. She said they were part of a series her party had undertaken with Christian spiritual and political leaders from Nineveh and Kurdistan, as well as Kurdish parties, in the wake of the fall of Mosul.

"There are many different views among Iraq's Christians," she said. "The Lebanese Forces told them that they must unite. We told them that if you all agree on a position, we will stand with you and help you."

That help could be political, in the form of lobbying international and regional players, or humanitarian. Or "if they want to protect themselves, we will put our experience at their disposal," Geagea said. "We told them they must decide on the best solution to help Christians stay in their country."

"We're Still Here"

Yaqoob Yaqo, one of the Assyrian Democratic Movement's members of parliament in Kurdistan, said that more than a hundred thousand Christians fled in the wake of the IS advances into their areas. "The problem is that even if [the IS] withdraws, a hundred thousand won't return."

He rattled off a long list of massacres and episodes of persecution directed against his people, but despite that litany, he wasn't downbeat.

"We're still here," he said, adding that his community has lived in these lands for 6,700 years, persisting after the fall of the Assyrian empire in 612 B.C. and practicing as Christians for the past 2,000 years.

"I feel strong when I think about our history, that all of these great powers couldn't uproot us from here," he said. "We're still here, but we want our own security."

© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

Why Indifference to the Mass Execution of Christians is 'Obscene'

by John Stonestreet, BreakPoint.org

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, asked "Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?"

That's a great question.

As Lauder pointed out, "In Europe and in the United States, we've witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who've been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza."

Likewise, the United Nations "has held inquiries" into the goings on in Gaza. "But," Lauder adds, "the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference."

As Lauder tells Times readers, "The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries." And for examples, he cites Boko Haram's preying on Christians in Nigeria and the "half a million Christian Arabs (that) have been driven out of Syria" during the past three years. And then, of course, there's ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Lauder writes that "Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had just lost their bearings." He asks why "there are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq" and why "the slaughter of Christians" doesn't activate the "social antennas" of "the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars."

Not mincing any words, he called the world's indifference to ISIS' mass execution of Christians "obscene."

And of course, he's right. And the saddest part is that what Lauder writes is true also of Western Christians. In an interview on BreakPoint This Week, Georges Sada, a former Iraqi Air Force General and a Christian, told me that Iraq's Christians had been let down by their brethren in the West. They expected Americans to save them and their ancient community, and it didn't happen.

Why? Well, Rod Dreher, writing in his blog at the American Conservative, has a very plausible theory. He writes that "to many American conservatives, even conservative Christians, the Arab Christians of the Middle East are invisible. As far as they know, all Arabs are Muslims. Foreigners. Unlike us. End of story."

Dreher's theory is consistent with what the president of Open Doors USA told Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic back in 2006. He explained the lack of concern among American Christians for their brethren in Iraq by saying that "the denominations in Iraq aren't recognized by Americans . . . The underlying attitude is, ‘They're not us.'"

On the other side of the political and religious divide, Dreher continues, "to many American (and European) liberals, all Christians are basically Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps. Christians are the yucky people they dislike at home."

For liberals, "All Christians around the world are the same, and they are always and everywhere the persecutors, never the persecuted. The persecution of Christians does not suit the Narrative."

Well, that narrative is tragically wrong. Canon Andrew White after a recent visit to northern Iraq wrote that he had "never witnessed anything on the scale, or which has affected [him] quite so dreadfully" as what he saw.

The only way things are going to get better is if we work overtime to be the difference to the indifference Lauder wrote about. A place to start might by making sure, as Dreher suggested, that your pastor gets a copy of Lauder's op-ed in the New York Times. Why not send it to the White House and the State Department as well. No doubt they've read it, but folks, it's time to let them know that we've read it, too. It's time for Christians in the West to make some noise.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/opinion/ronald-lauder-who-will-stand-up-for-the-christians.html?_r=3


I can't emphasize enough how urgent the need is for action. We have let our brethren in Iraq and throughout the Middle East down before. And if we do so again, "obscene" won't begin to describe our indifference.

About The Author:

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Source: BreakPoint Commentary

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