By now, most Friends probably know of the capture by Iraqi insurgents of four men from the Christian Peace Teams, including Tom Fox of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. I never met Tom Fox, but judging from the information about him in this article in the Washington Post
he appears to be a wise, dedicated, politically astute, and spiritually committed Friend. Reading about him put me in mind of something I wrote last January about the meaning of Christ's passion in the life of a Christian. I quote it here in the humble knowledge that whereas I was able to write about it Tom Fox is obviously living it. I hope and pray that he will be delivered from his captors and that in some way his example of courageous loving witness will advance the cause of peace.
From this understanding of what Christ did for us flows an understanding of what His disciples and Friends should do. In order to imitate Christ, we shall not go in search of ways to suffer any more than He did. Suffering may come to us, as it came to Him, and we will try to be ready to meet it when it does. But if it comes, let it be while we are living and acting as He taught us and is still teaching us to do. Let it be as we are doing the deeds of compassion, mercy and justice, loving our neighbors, loving our enemies, caring for the sick, speaking the truth, welcoming the stranger, giving of ourselves in service, and giving thanks always to God for His blessings. We have no need as Christians to invite suffering, and indeed we do well to avoid it when we can, just as we avoid causing others to suffer. We can even imitate Jesus in praying that “if it be possible, let this cup pass…”. But neither do we live in mortal dread of pain or suffering. If Christ by his death has truly conquered death for us, then the fear of death is not able to rule over our spirits. It cannot deter us from living as we believe that God would have us live nor from treating others as we believe God would have us treat them.