“We do not arm ourselves against any nation; we do not learn the art of war; because, through Jesus Christ, we have become the children of peace.”
-Origen of Alexandria
Take these thoughts from Origen and then lay them over the typical Christian Facebook or Twitter posts. I’d wager to say that you’d find quite a contrast, especially when you speak of Islam. We have approached near fever pitch levels of Islamophobia in the Christian world with the recent ISIS killings of 21 coptic Christians in Libya. From most of the comments or postings, you’d assume we’ve gone back to the Old Testament ‘eye for an eye’ leanings.
Is this act of murder atrocious? Yes, absolutely it is. But the acts of extremism shouldn’t change our posture from being ‘children of peace.’ We so quickly become the evil that we hate and condemn. Religious fueled violence is nothing new, but having access to the information from a 24 hours a day news cycle is relatively new (roughly speaking). We have become a people that are so easily outraged and horrified at events… until the next new story plays. We live in a violent and unfair world, regardless of where you life. There is injustice everywhere that manifests itself in things like physical violence or war. But it also shows it’s head in subtler ways like economic disparity or how we’ve become a judgmental culture that seems to delight in shaming one another. I’ll guarantee that violence on video will always raise our outrage more than the subtler ones we’ve become accustomed to in every day life.
Which brings me to the topic of Islamophobia. It seemed to have gained traction post 9/11 and embedded it’s way into the churches ever since. Life is always easier if we have an enemy, especially when we position ourselves on the winning side of righteousness. Enemies like this one do little to actually push us to change our own lives. Enemies like this one keep us right where we are. For me to be outraged at events happening on the other half of the world, I can be disgusted and horrified but still go about my daily life. This is easy outrage and it requires nothing of us.
Again, let me clarify that what is happening is atrocious and ISIS embodies evil in this world, but not because they kill Christians. ISIS is busy stripping the humanity and dignity from the lives of many people of different faiths and backgrounds.
What disturbs me more than these events is that we have let them begin to define us and that’s right out of the bully handbook 101. Taking on any phobia as a mindset changes who we are, how we love and how we engage the world around us. It is borne out of fear. Fear never leads us to good places. Remember how the war on terror led us to be come a terror of a different kind? The end rarely justifies the means… and if it does, it’s usually by accident.
In the same vein, condemning Islam tends to make Christians obsessed with Islam and not with Jesus. We become a people defined by our reaction-ism. The further we walk down that road, the less we love and the more we fear. Eventually, we become that fear and ISIS along with other forms of violence (i.e. fundamentalism and radicalism) win.
I’d rather be defined by acts of grace, peace and humility. I’d rather change the tide not by condemnation, but by radically loving others. That is the harder road of the two.
What do you think?