Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Romans 12:16-17
In Egypt, the Coptic Christian Church celebrates the Savior's birth on January 7th.
For many of our brothers and sisters remembering the anniversary of the Savior's arrival is a risky business. Last year 21 believers were killed at All Saints Church in Alexandria, and six were murdered during a Christmas Eve mass in the southern town of Nag Hammadi.
After a church attack in Aswan, thousands of believers came together in a Cairo march where they called for the government to assure justice and equal rights for the Savior's followers. Rather than finding a sympathetic ear, the military forces opened fire on the protesters and ran over them with armored vehicles.
Twenty-seven were killed in what is now known as the "Maspero Massacre."
That's the bad news; it's the kind of bad news that is part and parcel of a believer's life in many countries around the world.
Yes, that's the bad news, but it's not the only news. I'm pleased to share that there may actually be something positive happening for Egyptian Christians.
That positive comes from a group that calls itself the "Muslim Brotherhood." Members of the Brotherhood have said next Christmas they will help protect believers. Indeed, the Brotherhood has committed itself to forming local protection committees so "that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime."
I applaud the Brotherhood for having taken a step in the right direction. It is an extraordinary gesture and, quite frankly, the first time I have heard of such a thing coming out of a predominantly Islamic country.
By God's grace, the Muslim Brotherhood has given an example that will be repeated in many other Islamic nations, where persecution directed against believers is both frequent and often fatal. Whether that religion's radical element will ever allow co-existence to be created is beyond our ability to predict or control.
But a lack of prophetic insight doesn't mean we can't take the problem to the Lord in prayer. We can ask the Lord to bless all the peacemakers, even as we pray the Holy Spirit will grant a strong faith to those who must continue to stand against persecution.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, today I give thanks for the religious freedom I enjoy. If it be possible, grant to all Your people the freedom and the willingness to worship the Savior who gave His life for their salvation. And if it is not possible for Your people to live in peace, grant them the courage to remain faithful. This I ask in the Name of the Lord of life, Jesus Christ. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries