by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
What is going on in Syria, at present, is disturbing, terrifying, and upsetting. What, if anything, are we to do as a nation? Have opportunities for some kind of effective intervention passed us by? As with a few other of my blogs, I would like to ignore this subject–but cannot. I find myself disturbed by much of what I read and hear on the subject of Syria. One of the most offensive statements that I hear is “It is not in our national interest”. I gather that it is not in our national interest to care about other people–or to do anything that might be of help to them. Really, should we only look out after ourselves?
Jesus was asked on more than one occasion: “Teacher, Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Probably the inquiry was focused on the ten commandments found in Exodus, chapter 20. Rather, Jesus referred to two passages in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”–and from the book of Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In a defensive response to this, one of his inquirers asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Perhaps, he was thinking of the family next door. In response, Jesus related the story of The Good Samaritan, who came to the aid of a Jew who had been beaten and robbed; left to die by the side of the road. Other people passed by, and ignored the victim of violence. It is clear in the teaching of Jesus that our neighbor is someone in need, whom we might be able to help.
At this time, the majority of the people in the United States would like to forget about Syria, and say that it is none of our concern! The situation is perplexing with Muslim fighting Muslim. It seems to me that the United States of America (and other nations) have three choices:
- In some way assist President Assad to maintain his authority over the people of Syria.
- In some way assist the four disparate groups that are seeking to overthrow Assad.
- To sit by: Let them continue to kill each other and see what the end result is. In that case we may find the end result much more disturbing than we supposed. Human beings have frightening capacities for wicked and evil behavior. The Middle East is of inevitable concern to the USA. Assad has been the enemy of Israel, of Iraq, and to some degree of Jordan. Total inaction by the United States may have the effect of supporting Assad in killing his own people.
I want to discuss this with you, because, in some measure, I believe that this is our business. My concern at this point is that we think about Syria–and come to conclusions that we can defend when we talk with others. I would be pleased to have you agree with me–but also would be happy to have encouraged you to think seriously about this matter, even if your perspectives are different from mine. There are two basic things that all of us can do:
- Recognize that God loves the world, and that we are his servants.
- Pray for the people of Syria.
I like this sentence:
“Because I cannot do everything, I will not fail to do something.”
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note
Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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