Last Sunday, President al-Sisi attended the Coptic Christmas service in the Egyptian capital as he has done for the past six years. Against a background of rising tension in the Middle East, President al-Sisi held up the importance of tolerance and unity at a time when such tensions could spill over into conflict and violence, especially between religious groups. “If we love God, we must love each other,” was his simple message.
As Christians, we know that there is a Model for this kind of love. For tense times and hard hearts, the Lord Jesus has already offered the perfect solution. Jesus’ greatest commands to us – to love God with all our heart and, out of this, to love our neighbour as ourselves.
God, who is Love, wants us to love our neighbours who live alongside us – whether next door or across a distant border – with the same agape love He has for us. In Greek, agape carries the thought of goodwill to others, irrespective of their origins or likeness to ourselves. Jesus made this clear in His parable of the Good Samaritan. Christians must do good to all, says His Word, and especially to our fellow believers (Galatians 6:10).
Times of accusation and blame can stir up hate. It is no accident that the name “Satan” has the dual meanings of accuser and adversary. In our work supporting the persecuted Church around the world, Barnabas Fund encounters the hatred that Christians are so often being shown. We do not shy from truthfully reporting discrimination and persecution wherever it is occurring, but Barnabas continues to stand for love not hate, and Christ’s righteousness, truth and justice.