I’ve just seen an opinion piece published online by The Washington Post. It was titled, “Christianity in Iraq is Finished”. The article went on to tell the story of Christians in Iraq since the fall of Hussein in 2003. The Christian population of northern Iraq, author Daniel Williams claims, has shrunk from over a million to just thousands. Of late, even the survivors have fled the country. They do not, argues Williams, desire to return to an Iraq so marked with violence. They become exiles.
In essence Williams is saying that the Christians fleeing Iraq will be looking for a new country and a safer kingdom: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). Thus we know, ultimately, that they will have it.
Insightfully Williams notes in his article that the “bulwark against fanaticism” that Christians in Iraq have long been is now removed. I am remembering how Jesus said we are the salt of the earth: What happens to a nation when its salt has been removed? He said we are the light of the world, like a lamp that gives light to all in a dark house. How dark is that house with no light at all? When we pray for the Christians of Iraq, let us also pray for what remains!
The thing in Williams’ article that rankled was his title. “Christianity in Iraq is Finished.” Perhaps he achieved his goal. After all, his title was provocative enough that I read the article. But I felt a strong reaction all the way to my core. Christianity is never finished, Mr. Williams, in Iraq or anywhere else! Christianity as we know it is the beginning of a new and better kingdom that will last long after even the best and strongest empires of this world are ashes. Christianity is eternal. Do you want to know the only thing “finished” in Christianity? As he hung there on that crude cross and triumphed over all the forces of evil for all time, our Lord Jesus said “It is finished.”