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About a month ago I was scrolling through Twitter when a headline caught my eye. “90,000 Christians were killed globally in 2016.” Abruptly, I stopped myself. This is my family.
So Much More Than News
Just a week ago, my cousins-in-law moved their family from Minnesota to be missionaries in Papua New Guinea. Do you think—when the rest of the family gets together at Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas—their family will come up in conversation? Of course! We’re family, and family keeps one another updated, even from the other side of the world.
I wish the same could be said of the Church. We’re a family, united by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Yet so often do we forget one another. Why does this happen? And how can we begin to truly believe we are a family?
3 Reasons We Forget Our Family
1. Persecuted Christians don’t spend much time on social media.
Think about it. Where do we go for news on friends, family, and (increasingly) the world? For most of us, it’s Twitter or Facebook.
Our social media is saturated with people we know and understand—people like us. One of the inherent qualities of the church, on the contrary, is that it’s made up of people who are quite different than us. They’re very much like us, but also quite different.
Just like family.
2. Our understanding of “Church” is worlds different.
The Babylon Bee (my favorite Christian satire site) published an article last year called “Unsatisfied Persecuted Church Member To Try Out Other Church Just Across Minefield.”
The satire was clear. While we jump from church to church looking for something that “ministers to us,” those on the other side of the world are fortunate just to find a handful of other believers.
Our lack of visible persecution often creates a lack of prayer. I am sure believers in persecuted countries pray for the Church in America more than we pray for them—and that breaks my heart.
3. We tend to only notice widespread tragedy.
The truth is, it usually takes a shocking statistic to get our attention. You probably didn’t hear about the 90,000 Christians killed in 2016 for the same reason you also didn’t hear about the 35,092 motor vehicle deaths in America in 2015. When a school bus in Chattanooga crashes, leaving six elementary school students dead, the world takes note. But when one person dies in a car crash, only the victim’s family mourns.
Church, this is our family.
Remember My Chains
Our mindfulness of our family in Jesus is all but a biblical command. Paul tells the church to “remember my chains” and to “pray also for us” (Colossians 4:3, 18).
I’m not going to belabor this point. We need to remember our family. An immediate and active step is to download the VOM “Pray Today” app. You can set a daily reminder to pray for your family around the world (and you can also learn a little more about the countries represented in each prayer request).
Another step is to increase awareness. I don’t care if it’s sharing this article or just telling others, but let’s keep each other updated on the Family.
If your church doesn’t regularly pray for the persecuted church—why not? A church that doesn’t remember the rest of the family is like a renegade child living in isolation.
What binds [the Church] together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. . . . In light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says—and he commands them to love one another.
-D. A. Carson