There has been terrible news filtering through in the past few weeks about the systematic persecution of Christians in Iraq. The ancient city of Mosul, which until recent years was home to a large Christian community for the past 1600 years or so, is now essentially empty of Christians. Churches and anything faintly reminiscent of Christianity have been destroyed. Yet the news in Australia has only now started to pick up a few stories of this atrocity.
And the news is not just bad for Christians either. The way people seeking asylum are treated in this country, however strong a case for asylum they might have, is appalling. The secrecy and political games being played, most recently with the boatload of Tamil asylum seekers which has been moved several times, should upset all people in Australia who care for fairness and compassion. Yet, most of the time, people don’t seem to care enough. The rhetoric on talk-back radio and in the newspapers always tends to be ultra-patriotic and protectionist rather than compassionate.
And of course, there is so much else that is wrong with the world to any right-thinking person. It seems that Russia can do whatever it likes near its borders and people are afraid to speak up. China can increase its military and take control of international waters near other countries and no-one acts. Israel and Palestine continue to destroy each other, and other than some toothless UN resolutions, we don’t see decisive action anywhere.
Why do we not care enough anymore? Our history is full of people caring enough about justice that action was taken. People signed up in great numbers to serve their countries in the two world wars. When people disagreed with the war in Vietnam, they protested in the streets. When racial inequality was a flashpoint in America there were protests, speeches, political pressure applied. But now, what does it take for people to care enough to do these things? It seems the only thing that upsets people is if the budget means they lose a little money; the problems of others rarely leads to protests in the streets except for those directly affected.
Do we simply not care enough about justice and about others? Is it that we have become more selfish, or just so comfortable that we cannot envisage what others are going through?
As Christians, we see this mess and it should not surprise us. Yes, the world is broken and full of sin. Yes, one day it will be redeemed and the problems will be fixed when Jesus returns. But although the mess does not surprise us, it should upset us. It should bother us that the world is such a mess, that people are unnecessarily dying, that poverty is so much of an issue in our modern world, that wars continue with no-one speaking up. And it should bother us that our brothers and sisters in places like Iraq are being murdered and persecuted while we live in peace in our comfortable lives in the West.
What can we do? Is it a matter of not knowing how to help? Well, at the very least, we should be praying. And praying a lot. Our loving Father whose world this is it grieved by what He is seeing too. And He has the power to fix it in this life, should He choose – prayer is always the first thing to do.
But whatever your view on social justice, surely we also have a responsibility to do what we can to help. Maybe you can give to organizations that help in these places. Maybe you can write to your government pleading for compassion to be shown to refugees. Maybe you can use these things to educate your children to be thankful for our position in the world, and to take our privileged position seriously and to use it for the good of others.
Come, Lord Jesus.