RN | ET Student
As I watched people passing by the Agape Arabic Christian Centre from my seat inside the London bookshop, I noticed that the most common reaction to the storefront was confusion. The words “Christian” and “Arabic” are not often seen side by side, and it comes as a surprise to most people that Arabic Christianity even exists. The devoted staff of Agape use this to their advantage, though, by going out to meet those who confusedly pause in front of the door, and inviting them into the shop for tea and conversation.
Listening to the stories of the faithful Christians who serve in this bookshop, I was deeply impressed by their loving devotion to Christ, and the joy they have in serving Him. For Arab Christians, it costs something to dedicate their lives to God. It is legitimately dangerous for them to declare their faith, but it immediately becomes clear to anyone who interacts with them that Christ is their pride and their joy, and that He is worth all of the sacrifices they’ve made.
Sometimes I feel as though we’ve lost something in the normalcy of Christianity in places like the United States. The accepted Christian faith in our country does not involve sacrifice. We go to church, pray private prayers and worship with no fear of opposition or confrontation. We have the unjustified expectation that God will serve us and protect us from uncomfortable experiences. Going out of our way to serve Christ is no longer a priority and we are rarely willing to suffer for our faith.
I frequently find myself being caught in this lazy alternative to earnest discipleship, and I assume that it’s motivated by the underlying assumption that we’re happier when we don’t have to make sacrifices. This dangerous idea, however, was strongly contradicted by the abundant joy that emanated from a volunteer at the bookshop, who eagerly shared with me her deep love for prayer. She felt so blessed to have the opportunity to share the love of Christ with the people around her. I felt a flood of devoted joy pouring from the soul of this woman as she spoke, and in that moment I became instantly and inescapably aware that this is what our faith was meant to look like.