Pope Benedict XVI, in his general audience today, condemned the assassination of Lebanon’s industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, a Maronite Christian and member of the Phalange party. (Pierre Gemayel’s father, Amine, was president of Lebanon from 1982-1988.) Benedict warned citizens of Lebanon that there were "dark forces who are trying to destroy the country."
The pope firmly condemned "this brutal attack" and assured people of his prayers and "spiritual closeness to the family in mourning and to the beloved Lebanese people." He added: "In the face of the dark forces that seek to destroy the country, I invite all Lebanese not to allow themselves to be overcome by hatred, but to reinforce national unity, justice and reconciliation, and to work together to build a future of peace.” Benedict XVI also urged "leaders of the nations that have the fate of this region at heart to contribute to finding a global negotiated solution to the various situations of injustice that have existed for too many years."
Do we realize that Christians are being driven out of this great land of Lebanon every single day? What the radical Muslims have done to Lebanon, both culturally and politically, is a massive tragedy and seemingly beyond the comprehension or concern of most Westerners. But why do evangelicals care so little? Could it be that we do not care that much about the church unless it is “our” sector or favorite tribe? I do wonder. Paul exhorts the very kind of response that Pope Benedict gave when he counseled us “to weep with those who weep.”
We ought to pray for “the peace of Jerusalem” every day. Our government has made many mistakes, and quite often engaged only those parts of the world of economic interest to us. Yet America remains the world’s only power that can do something about many of these tragedies. I pray our leaders will do more than issue statements. While some of you pray for Lebanon let us all actively “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14, TNIV). We are given to the world to be salt and light. I pray that we will pursue that calling with deeper resolve in the coming months as the clash between darkness and light becomes even more obvious.
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Christians in Lebanon? Huh? For the first 3/4 of my Christian walk I was led to believe that the entire Middle East was exclusively Muslim, except for Israel, and the only Christian presence were American evangelicals who visited Israel and the maybe 0.0001% in other countries who happened to convert via short wave radio. I would guess that many of us don’t even know they exist.