With small children at home, I get to watch the news maybe once a week, and last week it was on a Thursday. I turned on the PBS Newshour and there was a special segment devoted to the Syrian War. One of the stories was about a mother in labor.
She was caught in cross-fire and hit with shrapnel. Doctors rushed to deliver the boy, thinking the mother’s injury to the stomach would threaten the child’s life. The newborn came out a pale shade of gray and wasn’t breathing.
A nurse hung the baby upside down and whacked him over and over like a butcher might tenderize a piece of meat. It seemed harsh to an ignorant onlooker. But by God, I prayed this whack-a-baby technique would work, and this child would come alive.
Chest compressions. Skin pinching. Hand-strung feet. Whack.
The upside down boy’s chest moved up and down, the pinkish color returning to his skin, and then miraculously, he cried.
A full cry meant this little one would live. He wailed.
There were other pictures out of Syria including one of a young boy, Omran, close to my son’s age. He was covered in soot and blood. His stare was blank. A living child looked lifeless, torn between the life he was supposed to be living with his family in safety, and the realities of war. He sat alone in a bucket seat.
Can the soul of a person be gutted, stripped from a body, and replaced with a robotic spirit? It’s called survival.
It’s in shambles, our world. This boy knows it better than any of us and yet I bet if you gave him a field of green grass and a soccer ball, he’d chase after it. He might even laugh.
That’s what kids do. It’s their purpose.
Far too often I’ve heard from well-meaning people that kids are resilient. It’s an excuse for lots of things. Sometimes it’s an excuse for complacency.
People say they don’t know what they can do to help these children in Syria much less the kid in their backyard. Sometimes they know, and I know, but we don’t do. Actions take sacrifice. Time. Money. Nerves.
And for the situation in Syria, it’s harder. We don’t have proximity. We see these videos and these pictures and we think of our own children, but really, what can we do?
I read an article by a pastor that said Jesus is the answer, that His WAY is the way out of this mess, and listed telling others about King Jesus as the number one solution for solving our world’s problems. As the predominant world religion, if getting others to convert to Christianity were the answer, we’d have fewer problems.
After concluding this I returned to my thinking obsession about what it means to bear each other’s burdens and to love our neighbors. Are Syrians our neighbors? Are Muslims our neighbors?
A young Muslim woman who recently published a book got me thinking. During another blood stained day, she tweeted something to this effect – maybe nothing will get better until Jesus’ second coming.
I don’t know her personally, but I thought about her statement, about how she’d read the teachings of Jesus, and that she might even believe in the WAY of Jesus, though she’s a Muslim.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” -Ghandi
I returned to the book of Mark chapter nine.
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” —Mark 9:38-41, NIV
If a Muslim woman and a Hindu man can believe in Christ and act upon his teachings, why is it so hard for us?
Is it that by having labeled ourselves Christians, we’ve settled our fate and no longer need to rely on our Christ to carry out His WAY? If it is Jesus we aspire to be like, are there not compelling actions to take for the sake of our neighbors’ lives?
Faith is an action. It’s a movement and it’s ongoing. It takes determination because it’s hard.
For our egos.
For our calendars.
For our pocketbook.
For our security.
But what’s hard is not impossible. There are actions we can take. That we must take.
- Prayer (singular and communal)
- Giving (time, money, resources)
- Advocating (raising awareness with friends and family, on capitol hill, and on social media)
The man called Jesus didn’t come for himself, he came for others. These others didn’t look like him, they didn’t have the same beliefs, and they were called heathens in their culture. Could it be that if we’re not for others (especially those who are different from us) then we’re not for Him?