You can’t turn on the TV and not see what seems to be continuous coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris. In response, we have seen Governor Bentley along with many other Governors come out declaring they will not allow any Syrian refugees to be settled in their states. I was at a “Faith In Action Alabama” meeting at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook on Tuesday where a self-proclaimed conservative, who votes republican, minister said, “How dare these governors, most of them claiming to be Christian, say such a thing when the Christian faith teaches to welcome the strangers.” To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Immediately, afterwards it dawned on me how I had misjudged him and how he was speaking from the point of “Trusting in a Faithful Witness” … Jesus.
Since the attacks I have struggled to put into words everything I wanted to say about this whole situation because as a Christian Pastor, I could not just look at what happened in Paris as an isolated incident without looking at the larger picture. And then, this week, I read something a friend of mine of many years, Reverend Michael Piazza, wrote that articulated my feelings completely. With his permission, I share it with you. It contains truths many of us as Christians don’t want to hear or think about.
“The attacks in Paris were perpetrated by “radical Islamists” and deserve condemnation and disdain. There is no place in civilized culture for any faith-based system that kills people who simply are eating dinner or enjoying a concert or sporting event. That is evil and a perversion of any religious teaching, and it needs to be purged from the earth.
So, I’m ready to start by getting rid of the Christian faith that supports drones that blow away hospitals without checking to see who is in the beds; that supports the bombs that our allies drop on marriage parties; that supports the deaths of more than one million people killed by a supposedly “Judeo-Christian” nation in Iraq; and that supports the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan and Libya and Syria as we dropped our bombs from so high that we never had to see their faces.
The truth is Christian bombers have killed many hundreds of times more innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya than Muslim bombers have ever killed. We are not willing to admit it, accept responsibility for those innocent deaths, or deal with the repercussions. I know it isn’t politically correct to raise these issues so soon after a tragedy as great as the one in Paris, but when will we finally begin to be honest about the number of innocent Muslims we continue to slaughter with the assumption that we should not pay a price?
NOTHING justifies what happened in Paris. That is PURE EVIL, but when will evil for evil stop? At some point someone must say, “Jesus tried to offer a different way. I don’t know what Mohammed tried to teach you, but Jesus tried to teach me to forgive you and love you, even though you did evil. Jesus tried to teach me to use love to stop the cycle of hate. Jesus tried to teach me that the only way to peace was for one of us to go first and that it should be me. So I will go first and forgive you and try to love you and stop the killing in the hope that you will do the same. Will you?” We will never know if the way of Jesus will work until someone tries. Will you?” (Bold italics added)
I was encouraged by the words of the conservative and progressive ministers this week. I saw a rare example of both sides putting the political equations aside and trusting in the words and ways of “A Faithful Witness” … Jesus.
This week we will observe “Christ the King Sunday,” the last Sunday of the church calendar year. We will recognize Christ as “The Faithful Witness” of which the scripture speaks. Just maybe in these dire times, you and I can begin to see if the way of Jesus will work: starting with us.
Join us for worship at Covenant on this last Sunday of the liturgical church year. The sermon will not be on the terrorist attacks in Paris but it will be on “Trusting In A Faithful Witness” based on Revelations 1:4-8.