Laughing from down below – my little boy entertaining the crowd as only a three year old can. It’s Easter, we like so many are in family today; as it should be – a good thing. Food, drink, pie – so much pie. Joy.
We are lucky. So many suffer, we forget that for many people celebrating Easter is dangerous – a clandestine activity full of risk and subterfuge. Secret meeting places, multiple knocks on a wooden door – a code that conveys membership in a secret society of believers. Dark halls under imposing buildings. Secret clearings in forbidden woods; hushed voices reading the story.
It shouldn’t be like that – but it is definitely a condition that Christians are accustomed to. Since the days of the believers hiding in underground vaults in Rome to escape Nero’s insanity; to Chinese communist prison camps for those who dared to remember the day Jesus rose from the dead; down through the ages it’s been dangerous to be a Christian.
It still is.
Today, a group of Pakistani Christians meeting in a park to celebrate were blown up by terrorists. Another in a long line of attacks. #Brussels; #Paris; #Bamako; #SanBernadino; #IvoryCoast; #Ouagadougou; and now #Lahore. Why isn’t there ever a hashtag that says #Christians?
I lived in Pakistan for a time – before the mayhem. Not before the advance of Salafism; but before it became political, violent. A charming country; old as time – the Indus civilization is second only to perhaps the Mesopotamian in antiquity. I have been to Lahore. Zamzama; the city of Rudyard Kipling; the great northern jewel of British India – the waterways that extend out feeding the old city. The changing of the guard at the Wagah border. The Mogul Temple – few people know that the Taj Mahal was actually modeled on a smaller, older temple in Lahore’s walled district. An ancient place – predating Islam, Christianity, even Judaism; old rituals full of meaning. Color, vibrancy and power of an epic civilization.
Civilization – that’s what we’re lacking these days; where did it go?
Christians have at no time suffered greater persecution than today – at least as far as numbers go. In too many countries it’s a crime to hold our faith; and in too many others it’s a crime to share it, even if you are ‘allowed’ to keep it. But those of us who are Christians know that we cannot hold it without sharing it – because even in the breaths of true believers the power of our God radiates. This does not mean that Christians are intimidated – far from it, most true believers know that religious persecution is a part of our history; the story written in martyr’s blood. But that doesn’t make the sadness less profound – the terror less real – the pain less consuming.
I pray for the Pakistani Christians today – like so many targeted in this new wave of persecution. The Lord will give them peace – He always has. But their lives are hard; and it’s not fair.
Especially when those of us who should be speaking out are silent; content in our houses in the suburbs behind the safety of our liberties – at least for a season.