The Unreasonableness of Love
Late last week I received an e-mail from Voice of the Martyrs, an organization dedicated to helping Christians around the world who face religious persecution.
The e-mail tells of a Christian lawyer in northwestern Pakistan who was defending another Christian in court against exorbitant interest rates. His name was Edwin Paul, and he had been found, along with his wife and 5 children, murdered by Islamic extremists in his home.
Reading their story made me think about the recent tragedy in Arizona that killed 6 people. In the story from Pakistan, 7 people died.
I am grateful that Voice of the Martyrs helps to make people aware of religious persecution around the world – at least as it regards Christians – but I fear they are speaking to deaf people, myself included.
The Voice of the Martyrs owns the rights to the book I am currently adapting into a play, and they have been very gracious in allowing me to put hands and feet onto the words of their founder Richard Wurmbrand. Wurmbrand was not a religious man. He was devoted to the person of Jesus he might say, but he was also incredibly flexible with doctrine – particularly during his 3 years spent in solitary confinement.
In one of the sermons he wrote and gave alone in his cell, he addressed the Western churches – churches preoccupied at the time with many things, none of which included Wurmbrand or other people suffering like him. He said many harsh things to these churches and reiterated all of it when he arrived years later in America. He tells them:
Men pray, “deliver us from evil.” Don’t wait for a God in heaven to do this! Godhead is in you, as it is in me. The prayer is addressed to you, too. You must deliver mankind from the evil one. God’s responsibilities are yours.
Yesterday I walked by a little Tibetan store near our home. I’ve talked a few times with the family who owns it about the refugees they know in Nepal, many of whom craft the store’s jewelry and clothing from their Himalayan exiles.
The family wasn’t in the store yesterday. They closed for the morning, and I didn’t realize until later that they were probably joining the many other Tibetans protesting China’s policies as the Chinese president arrived on the White House lawn for a summit.
It left me feeling sad. Sad for them, that they undoubtedly were annexed to the north lawn with the other protesters while the Chinese media and all of the diplomats stood worlds away on the south lawn. And sad for the survivors of the Paul family and for the millions of dead and displaced Christians in the Middle East, who are as affected as anyone by unjust policies and never-ending wars, but who do not appear to have anyone willing to close up shop and scream out on their behalf.
Richard Wurmbrand pleads in his sermons, “Where is the unreasonableness of love?” He wonders why Christians hadn’t pretended to be tourists to Romania and then broken down the doors of the prison and rushed in to declare their love for the suffering prisoners. Sure, they’d know they would be arrested. But, Wurmbrand argues, true love wouldn’t care.
I don’t know if breaking down prison doors is the best strategy today. But I do know that nothing at all can happen if churches aren’t willing to break down their own doors. As it is, Buddhists, who do not always have a very rich theology of suffering, are suffering much better with their brothers and sisters than a billion people whose favorite symbol is a butchered man bleeding naked on a plank of wood.