I read the Bible in Iraq out of desperation. I needed to know that God is good and understand how that could be true when our world is as poisoned as it is. I couldn’t understand how God could be loving and exclusive at the same time.
“Christ is the only Way,” I thought, “But what does that mean for all those who don’t know Him? Shall I condemn them, as other religions will condemn me?” Deuteronomy reads like an instruction manual for ISIS, I thought. I spent my days collecting testimonies of genocide and my nights fearing that God was pleased to see this happen. I reported on violent religious extremism and feared: what if God actually condones this?
This fear paralyzed me for a while. Then I picked up the Gospel and read.
It’s much easier to picture Christ now that I live in His neighborhood . . .
The Gospel does not ask its followers to form a club and hate everyone else. The Gospel is a feast in a refugee camp, a banqueting table set before our enemies, an engagement party as the world breaks.
“It says: by the grace of God and faith in Jesus Christ, come to our Father’s table. Eat, drink and be filled.
“Don’t kill for the Gospel! Die for the Gospel. As you die, you live. Your Shepherd has loved the hell out of this earth. Follow Him, and invite others to do the same.”
— Christian war correspondent Alice Y. Su in “Christ and Other Sheep: Reading the Gospel in Iraq, November 2014
Alice Y. Su is a fearless journalist who’s done a lot of reporting from “the neighborhood” where Christ walked and and talked and lived and died and rose again–i.e., the Mideast (including Syria).
In rooting round in my storage files of “Keeper” quotes, essays, articles and such that I’ve saved over the years, I came across a typically wonderful article Yu wrote in Iraq in November 2014.
It’s seems so fitting, and utterly relevant for this Good Friday, that I commend it to you.