Of whom then shall I be afraid?
April 16, 2021
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? * the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? —Psalm 27:1
A couple of years ago, I went to Kathmandu for a few days with a friend. Since we were there on a Sunday, we naturally sought out a church. Though there are several Anglican congregations in Kathmandu, none of them had an English internet presence, so we couldn’t sort out the details. We found a Roman Catholic church to attend.
In the course of looking up this church, I learned that a terrorist had detonated a bomb in that same church just a few years before. Christians in Nepal are often the target of violence and terrorism.
When it came time for the mass to begin, the church was full. Hundreds of people packed into the church, certainly aware that there was a modest amount of risk. The church, by the way, did not have the kind of extensive security one might have expected. No one checked our bags.
The gathered body of Christ in that place was a witness of Christian fearlessness. Christians rightly gather on the Lord’s Day to offer their prayers and praises, to give something in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us, and to be nourished by Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist. (We did not receive communion that day, because we were guests in a Roman Catholic church.)
If we take seriously what we are doing on the Lord’s Day, we won’t mind some risk. Risks for the right reasons are worth taking, after all. The Gospel says nothing about staying safe.
I think about this whenever I come back home after a trip to parts of the world where Christians do not take their faith for granted. I wonder what our church would be like if we stopped taking our faith for granted. What would my own life be like if I were jarred out of my complacency?
We domesticate the Christian faith to the peril of our souls. Jesus calls us to take up our cross, to love others sacrificially, to push past the boundaries of convention and convenience, to take risks.
How much more powerful would our witness be if Christians were known not as the people who demand their place in society but as the people who offer the sacrifice of praise and who stand ready to take risks for the sake of the Gospel?
Photo of Christian art at Assumption Church (RC), Kathmandu by Scott Gunn, posted from Flickr.