Persecution has been on the news over the last week or so.
The 2000 year old Christian community on Mosul, northern Iraq, has gone.
In the 1990s there were an estimated 2 million Christians in Iraq. By last year it was down to 200,000. In towns which have been overrun by ISIS there are virtually none.
This had been missed in the British media. Despite calls from prominent Christians, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, to try to bring their plight to the media’s attention.
Now the persecuted Iraqi Christians are news, because there is another religious group also being persecuted. The Yazidis are camped out on a mountain, food and water are being airlifted in to them.
Which brings me on to the reading at this morning’s service at Holy Trinity Huddersfield. 1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:17.
Paul and Silas had to leave Thessalonica after three weeks due to persecution. And is happy that the faith of the new Christians has held firm. But he mentions persecution here the persecutions that the Thessalonian church was in and the persecution Paul suffered at that time. Paul expected persecution, he seemed to think that it was the result of following God faithfully.
Now I’m comfortable. I have never faced persecution for my faith. I have had the odd insult, but nothing worse than the insults that people who are different from the norm get, and that isn’t real persecution. I have never lost my job or been denied a job or made homeless or injured because I’m a Christian.
Are you one of those Christians who complains that a bit of name calling is persecution? How would you react if the Arabic letter N (for Nazarene, the local name for Christians) were painted on your gate posts, or you were given the choice of converting to Islam, paying a tax to be allowed to stay in your home or be killed: Which option do you take? (Hint, your possessions have been seized so you can’t pay the tax.) The only other option is to leave.
(The picture above is the Arabic letter N, which is also the title of this blog post.)