We hear of a new terrorist attack in the news seemingly every week. Isis, Al-Qaeda, mass killings, beheadings; it’s enough to make us scared.
I remember when the Sandy Hook school shootings happened and parents across the country were struggling to find ways to tell their kids that it was safe for them to go to school. The problem was that children don’t have a good grasp on the vast remoteness of something similar happening to them; the idea that yes, something horrible happened but, there are over a hundred thousand primary schools in the country and all but a minute number of them have had a very peaceful existence, is lost on a 6-year-old who’s scared.
By now maybe you’ve gathered where I’m going with this.
Many adults, Christian adults, also have a problem conceptualizing that the frequent reporting of Muslim terrorist attacks in the news in no way portrays a picture of the minutia of Muslim terrorists in a sea of 1.57 billion Muslims world-wide.
So to be clear, to portray Islam as a religion of hate/war/death/etc., based on those Muslims involved in terrorists attacks is first, factually inaccurate, and facts should matter for Christians, we’re called to be truth tellers and seekers. We tend to act like there’s no one who calls themselves a Christian who embarrasses us. How would you feel if you were lumped in with Woodsboro Baptist Church as they protest funerals of members of the military, or the actions of Christians in the Crusades where the death toll is somewhere between 1 and 3 million?
Second, and maybe more importantly, it’s no way to show love to Muslims in our community. I say ‘more importantly’ because it wouldn’t really matter if 100% of Muslims were terrorists or extremists, our call to from the mouth of Jesus himself to love our enemies does not change, and although many have tried, it takes an enormous suspension of disbelief to conclude that literal violence or even speaking hatefully is loving.
Don’t misunderstand me! This is not an ‘all religions lead to the same God’ post. I find it intellectually impossible to follow the Jesus of scriptures and also believe in that type of Unitarianism. In fact it’s this belief in the exclusivity of Jesus as Lord and Savior that compels me to share his radical love and not disparaging generalizations with everyone.
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred. -C.S. Lewis