Reflecting on Matthew 16: 21-27
What profit would there be if you gained the whole world, yet forfeited your life? That’s not a question we in the west take very seriously. We can’t imagine what the Christians in Mosul have to face every day, but maybe we should make ourselves imagine it.
Christians have been the target of 80 percent of all religious discrimination in 139 countries around the world. Attacks on Christians jumped 309 percent in seven years, and more than 100 million have been persecuted. Since the time of Jesus, the world has seen 70 million Christian martyrs, and fully 50 percent of those have lived in the 20th century.
It’s hard to get an accurate count of the martyrs of this century, and certainly the events in Mosul will take those numbers to, in the words evocative of our country’s own terror 13 years ago, “more than we can bear”. A conservative number is between seven and eight thousand yearly. John Allen, author of The Global War on Christians, writes “Two thirds of the 2.3 billion Christians in the world today live…in dangerous neighborhoods. They are often poor. They often belong to ethnic, linguistic and cultural minorities. And they are often at risk. That point is more important than being precise about the death toll.”
In 1999, Columbine shooting survivor Val Schnurr had already been shot when her madman assailant asked if she believed in Jesus. She said “yes,” and by some miracle was not killed. Answering “yes” to that question in over 50 countries today can get you killed, with, in a world increasingly “tolerant,” no questions asked.
We must bear witness. The prophet Jeremiah compels us.