Beneath the surface of the political struggle, Syria is engaged with persecution. In a part of the world where Christianity is a minority, religious persecution gets a back-row seat to world powers. But religious persecution is nothing new to the area. On the way to Damascus, nearly 2000 years ago, a religious man with political ties determined to obey the laws of his God. The man named Saul determined that these laws ordered him to wipe out a rising sect of Jews. Later on, this sect would be known as ‘Christians’ – followers of Jesus Christ (A name still cursed internationally.) On the way to Damascus, a power stopped Saul in his tracks. The power was not political, chemical, or legal. The power was a person, a person of divine nature. Jesus himself revealed his glory and presence, blinding Saul. Saul became physically blind but spiritually aware of a greater battle waging behind the scenes. The battle, as it has always been, is over the souls of men. After his conversion, Saul took on the name Paul, not a follower of a new religion, but a follower of a living person. His new vision of the powers we struggle against would inspire him to write:
Ephesians 6:12 King James Version (KJV) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
And from prison, Paul wrestled in a kneeling position, utilizing the great weapon of prayer.
How different is the Western viewpoint, where ‘persecution’ is simply speaking one’s belief in front of an offended listener. I see the TOLERATE bumper sticker, and I wonder if it’s in the wrong place. Maybe these cars should be cruising through the Middle East. Car-bombings, imprisonment, destruction of homes and churches are far from tolerance. Start in the areas of the world where persecution is the harshest. Then come back to America and take in the refreshing air of religious freedom.