Tag Archives: Egypt

Making Our Appeal: The Significance of Interfaith Work as Christ’s Ambassadors

Just a few days ago, Greg and I both wrote a reflection about a photo tweeted around the web depicting young Egyptian Christians linking arms in protection of Muslims praying behind them. A common theme ran through both our posts—that such a display of love demonstrated quite poignantly the love of Christ for humanity. It was a sacrificial love, and in both of our reflections we touched on what we felt to be one of the most important aspects of their actions: that they were representing this love to the world.

The Muslim community in Egypt, who began this exchange of prayer protection over Christmas, are now once again returning this act of love by protecting the Christians while they pray. One act of kindness bore another.

Having grown up in the church, I often hear the term “ambassadors of Christ” used to describe Christians’ social identity. Indeed, Greg and I have even employed the term at various times on this very site. Though perhaps a rather awkward way of referring to a Christian individual to modern ears, the concept makes a lot of sense, and has a lot to bear on interfaith interaction.

The expression itself comes from 2 Corinthians 5:20, which says:

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

These words (like usual) belong to St. Paul, who writes this in his second letter to the early church in Corinth. If you are like most introspective Christians, the question becomes: But what does it mean to be Christ’s ambassador, exactly?

Being ambassadors of Christ requires something more of us than simply attending church services or calling ourselves “Christian.” Instead it necessitates action, doing. The act of being an ambassador means representing another party—“represent” is a verb.

Though I touched on this briefly in my recent post on evangelism and interfaith work, and will address it again in our upcoming series that focuses on evangelism specifically, all I will say here is that these Egyptians demonstrated what it means to be an ambassador of Christ: they showed that they were willing to act on Christ’s behalf to bring peace into the world, to show the world what the Kingdom of God looks like.

I think the prominent New Testament scholar (and former Bishop of Durham, UK) NT Wright has the right idea regarding what it means to represent Christ as his ambassador. Essentially, he talks about the Kingdom of God as being on earth now, enacted through us as believers, as well as the Kingdom of God as a future event worthy of aspiration. This view makes a lot of sense when you look at Pauline theology (which Wright does a great deal) and understand that this rubric compels us to live a faith in action, a faith that moves here and now to represent the ideal that we hope for in heaven.

All of this is a protracted way of saying that interfaith cooperation presents a perfect opportunity to enact our faith, to live it as those Egyptians lived theirs (both Muslim and Christian). Indeed, interfaith cooperation is the very definition of ambassadorial work—representing Christ to those who do not share your religious tradition. How does the notion of representing Christ affect your life? Does it move you? Does it impact your actions? What does it look like, in your eyes, to be an Christ’s ambassador?

Please join in the conversation, either by leaving a comment here or finding Faith Line Protestants on Facebook!

 

—-

Photo by sanja gjenero (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi)

Share Button

A Love Like Christ, a Reflection: What We Can Learn From Egypt’s Uprising

originally posted by @NevineZaki on Twitter.

The media has swollen with stories about the protests in Egypt—millions marching for freedom and peace, the internet being shut down, and, most recently, Anderson Cooper bludgeoned by angry Mubarak-supporters. Even to a reader who likes to keep abreast of world affairs, I must admit that I still don’t fully understand the complex cultural workings that led to this enormous protest, being admittedly rather ignorant to Egyptian political life. It seems that every five minutes, a new take on the whole affair appears on the news sites I follow.

But, while skimming through my Twitter feed a couple of days ago, I caught the image above sent in a link by one of my friends at the IFYC, and it had a profound impact on me. It was an image of poignant truth, yet simple to understand. Regardless of the political motivations behind the movement, the implication of US diplomacy, or the expected outcome of all that has occurred, I could not help but be moved.

Greg’s post on this photo mentioned his great appreciation for Jesus’ exhortation to “Love your neighbor.” These words come from Luke 10:27, in which Jesus says that the two most important commandments from God are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Later, St. Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, echoes love’s importance when he describes its qualities, saying:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

It was Jesus who loved us so deeply that he died for our sins—the demonstration of a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” In the outstretched arms of these young Egyptian Christians I see the same kind of love. And, in a way, they stand in imitation of Christ, bearing their hearts to the world.

What is more profound than this—Christians mimicking the sacrificial love of Christ in such a poignant way?

The people in this photo look my age. As I reflected on what they were doing, I had to ask myself: would I do that, too? Faced with the threat of violence and death, would I link arms with my fellow believers in order to let those of another faith pray to their god? Though I fear my cowardice, I should hope I would rise to the occasion, and I would hope they would do the same. In fact, as Greg mentioned in his post, they already did, back at Christmas when Muslims stood as human shields outside of an Alexandrian church in solidarity against militant extremists.

The love demonstrated in this photograph is a powerful one, one that moves me and motivates me. The bonds of such a love are strong, elemental, transcendent. What compelled the Muslims to defend their Christian neighbors later compelled Christians to reciprocate. How does this motivate you? Does it cause you to reflect on your faith as it did me?

Paul continues in his letter to the Corinthians. His words ring powerfully in my mind as I consider the photograph above:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Share Button

Reflections on a Snapshot of Religious Cooperation in Egypt

originally posted by @NevineZaki on Twitter

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t pay enough attention to what is going on in the world around me.  Typically, my eyes are fixed on a pair of computer screens: coding a problem for class on one, a half-composed e-mail sitting open on the other.  Or I’m wrapped up in a textbook, trying to stay awake, note cards scattered around me, studying for that next exam.  I’m an MD/PhD student, so perhaps I have an excuse.  But then again, maybe I don’t.

I do what I can to catch glimpses of the reality beyond my routine.  Which, at best, means grabbing my phone during a free minute or a boring lecture to skim a series of RSS feeds, tweets, and headlines.  This week, one tweet in particular caught my eye and caused me to sit back for a moment to reflect.

At the church where I grew up, there were a few older gentleman who consistently reminded us to be praying for our troops.  It gave me the impression that these fellas sat around all day with nothing else to do, so they made a hobby of following the men and women serving our country and risking their lives outside the States, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But I think that they were actually on to something.  There are bigger things going on in the world – things that, at the very least, deserve our prayerful attention.

Amidst the unrest in Egypt, a picture was tweeted across the globe this week, often with an #interfaith hash tag, showing Christians joining arms to protect Muslims during prayer.  This almost seemed to reciprocate the human shield formed around a Coptic Christmas mass just a few weeks ago by Egyptian Muslims as a protest against Islamic militants.

As I paused for another “what would Jesus do?” reflection, I began to realize what this act represented.  In a society where order is crumbling to the ground and protests are escalating to violence, what is more profound than a bold reminder that many Egyptians dream of a country where people of diverse backgrounds work together to preserve freedom?

As we’ve started to build Faith Line Protestants over the past few weeks, one theme has remained persistent in my thoughts: love your neighbor.  To me, defending another’s freedom to practice their faith – even when that faith is not your own – is an act of love.  As a citizen of a nation built on ideas like religious freedom, I realize the significance of this notion which, depicted in the picture above, inspires me as I pray for safety and peace in Egypt during the days ahead.

How does this inspire you?  Let us know by commenting here or sharing with us on our Facebook page.

Share Button