Recently, a young man drove his pickup truck at a high speed, and drove into a family that was walking on a summer day. Four adults were killed, except for one survivor, a young boy who was badly injured. The whole family was Muslim, originally from Pakistan, and that was obvious by their appearance. They were attacked because they were identified as Muslims.
In the world, the number of Muslims is almost two billion, 1.8 billion, and this incident is being reported everywhere. This all happened in a peaceful country, Canada, in a very quiet part of that country, London, Ontario. The family probably felt very safe walking in London on a summer day.
The young man, who drove the truck, was arrested, and now he is being charged with a hate crime.
At this time, people who knew the young man are surprised that he did this. He had issues with his mental health, but otherwise there is nothing in his history to explain what he did:
“One friend and co-worker who was raised as a Muslim described him as a proud Christian, and noted he seemed to treat Muslims normally for the four years he worked there. Co-workers said the alleged murders and motivation seemed out-of-character and unexpected, one denying Veltman is a radical terrorist or Islamophobe. During Veltman’s parents’ divorce in 2016, he was described as “peculiar and challenging”, and both agreed he should continue therapy and be supervised around his younger siblings.” READ: London, Ontario truck attack
I don’t want to say more about what happened because the story causes an emotional storm for many people, and the police are still investigating. There will be a trial, and we will learn more in the next few months.
There is something we can know now. We might worry: Are the two largest groups in the world starting to fight with each other?
The number of people in the world who identify as Christian is slightly more than the number of Muslims, almost 2.4 billion. About half of the world’s population identifies with one of the two religious groups. Violence between them would be a clash of titans.
The young man who drove the truck in London was apparently raised in a conservative Christian family, and in the quotation, he is a “proud Christian.” He drove his truck into a Muslim family and killed most of them.
So, are Christians and Muslims in danger of going to war with each other?
Probably not, but this is an apples and oranges question. People who believe something don’t have to be just like everyone else who believes something else. Islam and Christianity are not two variations of the same thing.
It is popular with some people to say that all religions are the same; they are just different paths to the same goal. That tells religious people that they can’t believe what they want; they have to be who expert-others want them to be. That is not freedom.
I can’t speak for Muslims, but I am a Christian. We should all know that there is no religion with 2.4 billion members. The most common type of story in the Bible is about one person relating to God. There are some group activities, but starting with Adam in the garden of Eden, to Moses at a burning bush, to the very end, with an old man named John, who had visions about the future, God speaks to us one at a time.
We find God, through Jesus, and we join a support group, usually called a church. We don’t live in our grandparents’ traditions. The old saying is ‘God has no grandchildren, only children.’
Each Christian is a follower of Jesus, and that is why we belong to a group.
We are told:
“Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
The “one” who is thirsty; choosing to follow Jesus is a personal responsibility, and that starting point does not produce a community that can stand up against a competing group. Too many Christians don’t appreciate that. We are believers who worship God together.
There are places in the world where people are choosing to follow Jesus in large numbers, and they often keep quiet about their decision because of dangerous persecution.
Probably, the largest numbers are in places like China, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The dynamic of personally following Jesus does not produce a community that can clash with a rival system. The apples can’t fight a war with the oranges.
In time, we will probably learn why that young man decided to kill a family of immigrants from Pakistan. We can know now that this is not the beginning of a titanic struggle. It is a terrible decision made by one person, and he did not reflect Jesus, who told us to love our neighbors.
The journey for each Christian is from the darkness into the light.
In the words directly from Jesus:
“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:16 to 17)