And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem and from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. Genesis 33:18-20
Jacob’s boldness in erecting an altar in a land with other gods is a challenge to every modern-day Christian. Timidity will not serve God well in these days when the opposition is growing. Maybe we have enjoyed walking in neutrality, never revealing our beliefs for fear of not fitting in, but the time is here when we are being forced to choose publicly whom we will serve.
Imagine moving to India, and just outside a major city, you erect a monument with the inscription, ‘The Mighty God of Israel.’ As you do it, you know that everyone around you is a Hindu. Your worship of any God other than Hindu gods marks you as different. In today’s world, that invites retaliation, even death.
Today, it’s fact and not fiction as an Indian pastor, earlier this year, was dragged out of his church mid-service by a mob of Hindu nationalists and beaten for hours. Yet when the police arrived, they charged the pastor with violating a blasphemy law rather than charge the radicals for their violent assault.
Some Hindu nationalist leaders are deeply paranoid about Hindus converting to Christianity or other religions. One former member of parliament called Christian missionaries “a threat to the unity of the country.”
It is prudent for us to put ourselves in their place. By doing so, our heart is stirred to pray with an intensity born of identification and empathy. It also enables us to role-play for what may be coming our way. Are we bold enough to display our altars to the God of Israel in the midst of Shechem?
How long, Lord, before You come and reign? How long will the blood of martyrs spill on our streets? For Your honor and glory, may only Your sovereign plans for Your people prevail. Amen