By now, most of us will have seen and heard about the horrible shootings that have taken place in Chapel Hill. Three Muslim students at the University were murdered by a neighbor. The man is in custody but there are many questions about the circumstances and the shooter’s motivation. Many reports have suggested that animosity toward religion in general and especially toward Islam played a role in this tragedy.
We may never know the complex psyche of this man and what moved him to be a murderer. Violence and anger have always been a part of the human condition. Nothing we do will rid our world of these kinds of tragedies.
But… one thing we can do and the thing that we should do if we are Christians is to make every effort not to contribute to the climate of hatred and anger that permeates our society. Face book and chat rooms and television news shows are constantly spewing venom and advocating violence as a remedy for some perceived offense. I am not surprised that human beings act this way. But I am deeply dismayed when Christians do.
We say that we use the Bible as our guide for behavior. But the New Testament is clear that the way of Jesus is the way of love and peace. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” These are the words of Jesus.
When we participate in the worldly habit of constant criticism and condemnation, we encourage those who would use violence as a means to get rid of their particular opponents. When we declare that all Muslims are evil, for example, we are spreading lies and hate. We are feeding the wolf of prejudice and fear.
We are not responsible for the evil actions of this murderer, but we bear responsibility for refusing to stand up against the incivility and anger that fuel the fires of such rage. If we belong to Jesus, we should be imitating what He did when evil took hold of Him. Turn the other cheek; seek reconciliation; rejoice in what is good.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC