EXPLORE YOUR FAITH
How are we to respond to acts of terrorism and the hatred expressed by self-proclaimed "enemies" of Christianity?
What do the failed plot to blow up 10 jetliners leaving London, Iranian efforts to build a nuclear bomb, and a video/song called “Hater” by the alternative rock band Everclear depicting Christ as a murdering thug have in common?
The terrorists trying to kill thousands of men, women, and children simultaneously as they flew from London to the United States consider their targets “infidels,” who—because their beliefs are different from those of the terrorists—are doomed to hell. Furthermore, the terrorists think that they will actually be rewarded for killing infidels and will progress directly to heaven for killing themselves in the act of killing others.
The government of Iran shares these same beliefs and has made public statements that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” If/when they develop nuclear weapons, the world will surely be a more dangerous place.
a video depicting a Christ figure—a man with a crown of thorns—going
on a killing spree. Leaving the visual message aside, the
song itself is supposedly about the hate the lead singer feels
after going through a divorce. His mother was a “far right” Christian. He
uses quotes from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as inspiration
for the "Hater" Jesus video and song. He explained
the video as a protest against the hatred he perceives in many who
It is pretty easy to connect the dots. The common thread is hate and a fundamental misunderstanding of true (yes, the use of the word “true” is deliberate) Christianity by “fundamentalists.” The essence of the Christian faith can be summed up in one word—love. God loves us. We are called to love God with all of our mind, body, and spirit and to love our neighbors as ourselves. According to Christ's own words in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 22), “All of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
How then can we respond to those who hate us? How can we live with the legitimate fear of those who wish to kill us? Again, Christ points to love in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 5). We are to love our enemies and pray for them. We get no credit for merely loving those who also love us. It is a hard calling. He goes on to say that, ultimately, God's goal for us is to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”
If you think about what He is saying, it is what separates us from those who are trapped in the darkness of their own hatred. If they hate us and we hate them, then we are all guilty of the same thing. I personally do not think God sees an “us” and “them.” In God's eyes, we are all His children. We are called to see as God sees.
Can you imagine what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be open to God, to be embraced by Him, to become part of the most powerful force in all of creation—love? In Christ we see one who did precisely that. It is a radical approach—one that turns its back on our own plans and machinations and relies on the strength, power and mystery of a God greater than anything we can conceive, and yet closer to us than our own heartbeat.
there would be no "Hater" video; perhaps those
who call themselves our enemies would be overwhelmed by our compassion
and would begin to see us as God's children instead of as infidels. Perhaps
God's kingdom would begin to be “on earth as it is in heaven.”
We do not know what lies ahead, but putting our faith in God's love is our only real hope for change. We can start with prayers such as the following, inspired by the Celtic hymn Beach Spring :
Lord, turn our lives into a sacrament of worship in humble gratitude to you. Send us into the world to love and serve you, bringing peace where there is strife. Grant us, Lord Christ, your great compassion to forgive as you forgive. Help us to see as you see so that, through You, we may bring forth God's kingdom in the world you died to save.
Explorefaith.org is not a political web site. It is an on-line community of faith dedicated to sharing our beliefs and experiences with anyone seeking insights into spiritual questions. The issues surrounding terrorism are by definition political. We strongly believe that all people have the right to live in safety; nonetheless, our content will not include advocacy of any position or debates as to which policies a particular government should follow to protect its citizens. We believe that lasting answers lie not in politics but in the transforming power of God's love.
We urge you to pray for the leaders of all nations, for guidance in your own political stance, and for your enemies. In the long run, hate can only be conquered by love. Through prayer, hope and acts of compassion, people of faith can work for peace and increased understanding and connections between those who are different. Our hope lies in the teachings and examples of Christ and the mysterious power of God to work through us to conquer hatred through love. For in truth, we are all children of God, much beloved by Him.