A few days ago, someone attacked a mosque in New Zealand and killed fifty people, by the most recent count. Now, the entire nation of New Zealand is in shock, and the Prime Minister has vowed to never say the name of the killer. This news moved quickly around the world, and now, a week later, a detailed account is available in Wikipedia:
- RELATED: Christchurch Mosque Shooting
When I heard the news, I waited for the information that we all dreaded. What was the name of the killer? In crude terms ‘One of us or one of them?’ Did a Muslim kill other Muslims, or did the killer have a grudge against that religion? Even worse, what if the killer identified as a Christian and tried to pull the rest of us into the fight? I’m a Christian; is someone dragging me under the bus?
Fifty people died in Christchurch New Zealand, including children, and that is very wrong. If this mass killing generates enough payback anger, more wrong will grow from the first incident, and then, if anyone wants to be resentful in return, more anger and payback could result from that.
It’s the never-ending story.
After I learned the news from New Zealand, I waited a very short time, and yes, it happened. A man from Turkey, possibly a Muslim, attacked people on a street car in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and killed at least three. The shooter is described with words like “radicalized” and “terrorist.”
I don’t think the two attacks were related, but let’s use the language of ‘them’ and ‘us’ … ‘One of us killed some of them, one of them killed some of us.’ –
Three is a much smaller number than fifty, for a body count, but if we are keeping track, attacks from Muslims, against ‘us’ are common, and ‘they’ might have a higher victim count, unless we go back in history to the crusades. The score probably favors ‘us’ at this time, although the Wikipedia scoreboard is meticulous and detailed, in ‘their’ favor.
That ‘us and them’ score keeping and payback reflects a belief system, almost a religion. In diplomacy it is called MAD; Mutually Assured Destruction. This thinking has been with us since the beginning of history ‘If you hurt me, I will hurt you more!’. It’s dangerous to Christians because the ideas can infect our lives and damage our churches.
MAD thinking can sneak in under some disguise, but collections of ideas are organized and systematic, ideologies or religions. The Bible describes organized ways of thinking and acting as ‘spirits’ meaning there are spiritual forces behind these impulses. We are told to ‘test the spirits’ and every Christian should recognize what the god of MAD teaches us.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4: 1).
So let’s put MAD on trial:
It only sees the sin / It erases Jesus:
When you, or I get angry and attack back, we become the one who saves. Our angry actions are meant to make things better, to correct what is wrong, and that is not the work of a Christian.
Jesus worked to erase the wrong in this world, sin, so we could be free to focus on better, constructive things. Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10: 10)
It builds walls / It offends for defense:
Offensive attacks are often defensive moves. If we resent ‘them’ because of what they did, we help build ‘their’ wall from our side. Everyone in the world has the right do decide for themselves about Jesus, and that includes every Muslim. There is no religious kingdom where a conscience is not free, unless we help to enforce the borders. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3 and 4)
It destroys / It takes us off our game:
Destruction is the work of our enemy, and not something we are called to; we are in the construction business. Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight ” (John 18:36)
I trust that the true God will give His comfort to the people who have suffered from the MAD ‘punish and payback’ religion, and I am sorry to report that there will be more victims, and more suffering. The spiritual forces driving MAD are still with us, and we should all know that Jesus has a better way.
Our instructions are very clear, we are not on either side of the scoreboard:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 17 to 21)