Memorial Day

This weekend Americans will commemorate Memorial Day. Many will gather in services or parades for grateful and cheerful celebrations. This is a good and appropriate thing to stop and remember. It is important that we remember the high price hundreds of thousands of soldiers have paid with their life-blood so that we can enjoy our political and religious freedoms. But this kind of remembering does not demand much of us, beyond not taking for granted our freedoms. There will be a brief remembrance, and then we’ll move on with our leisurely plans and full day of fun events.
But a Memorial Day kind of remembering will not be good enough for our suffering Christian brothers and sisters. The remembering that God requires of us demands sustained action: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:3)
When the author of Hebrews tells us to “remember,” he isn’t talking about a fond, grateful private reflection. What he means is, “go help them,” and the original Greek means, “keep helping them.” When we remember our war dead, we don’t remember them as though we were dead with them. But we are to remember the imprisoned Christians “as though in prison with them.” We are to remember mistreated Christians as though we were sharing mistreatment. We are to react to our brothers’ and sisters’ affliction just like our entire body reacts to the pain when one member of our body is afflicted. God calls us to a demanding remembering.
In northern Iraq, Christians are being brutalized and exterminated. They are being beaten, imprisoned, raped, kidnapped, extorted, and murdered. Their homes are being stolen or destroyed. Their wives and daughters are being stolen and destroyed — sold into sex slavery. Christians in North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and a host of other nations are suffering under terrible adversity and persecution. In Pakistan the Christian minority population is under a constant threat of violence, 700 girls each year are kidnapped, sexually abused, and forced to convert to Islam.
We are called to act. “Remembering” in Hebrews 13:3 is an imperative. Involvement is not optional. Remembering our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ must move us to action. Christians bear a unique responsibility to care for other suffering Christians close or far. Therefore, the suffering of millions of Christians in the world is a concern for Christians everywhere who know about it. We must do what we can to help. We must make ourselves more aware, Pray — really pray for them, give whatever we really can, share their needs with other believers, and go if possible to aid them physically.
Americans, remember with appropriate gratitude this Memorial Day the military deaths that purchased your freedoms. But Christians, don’t remember your imprisoned and mistreated brothers and sisters like Americans remember their war dead. Hebrews 13:3 remembering demands action. We must not do nothing.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes