On Friday, March 15th our world was rocked by the acts of terrorism that took place in Christchurch NZ. A hatred fueled attack on people who were worshipping is a heinous act cowardice. My condolences and prayers go out to all those impacted by these actions.
On Monday, March 18th the Muslim Student Association held a prayer vigil. They invited speakers from all different faith groups, including representatives from Segue to bring a Christian Perspective. As they spoke out against hatred and violence, one statement that stood out to me was. “We have fought the symptoms, and now we must fight the disease.”
Christ followers have a pivotal role to play in this process. Here are three ways that we can fight the disease of hatred.
1. Make a clear distinction between your faith and your flag. I am a proud Canadian. There are so many things that make this country amazing. People move from tropical climates to Winnipeg. Why? Because of the freedom and opportunity that exist in Canada. They feel safe. They feel welcome. My primary identity in this world is not as a Canadian but as a citizen of God’s Kingdom. There are times when the values of my nation conflict with the Kingdom of God. I need to stand with God’s kingdom. A quick look back at the history of our nation reminds me that when the church acts in the interest of state instead of God’s Kingdom, the results are disastrous. There is a lot of work to do with our Indigenous communities to bring repair.
It was Jesus who said, “that no one can serve two masters.” This is true, in regards to nationalism, as much as consumerism.
2. Don’t use the dark side of social media. There are real issues around freedom, security, immigration, and sanctity of life. Social media memes that may seem witty can be destructive. They are often subtly laced with similar language that is used to justify attitudes and actions of hatred. As a Christian, we are to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Make no mistake racism in all its forms is evil. It values the life of one kind of person over the lives of others. Racism is the opposite of pro-life.
3. Start where you have influence. I have seen many responses to the Christchurch Massacre where people have drawn attention to other acts of hatred around the world. A Facebook friend posted this in response. In the current moment of being empathetic towards the Muslim tragedy in New Zealand, I urge all Christians to avoid posting past news clips of Christian persecution. It really looks like you are trying to dismiss, dilute, or deflect the sympathies towards Muslims back to Christians. It’s like going to a funeral and, instead of expressing your condolences to the bereaved, you keep telling stories about your own past griefs. Yes, your grief is painful, but, at another’s funeral, you grieve with those who grieve. During the period of another’s mourning, it’s wise to remain silent about your own pain.This doesn’t mean that I stay silent on the acts of hatred committed by other groups.
I am a white Christian male. With a small congregation. My voice means nothing to terrorists who have corrupted a religious system of Islam to commit acts of violence against those who disagree with them. However, to my friends, family, neighbors, and members of the congregation, I have a voice. I need to challenge posts and statements that normalize & promote racism. To denounce any form of white supremacy that overtly or subtly invades our gatherings and churches.
There is so much more to say and do in fighting the disease of hatred in our world. We need to talk about these things. Let me end with this, engage with people who are different than you whenever possible. The neighborhood around our church is very diverse. We have started English Language classes and volunteering at the food bank distribution center in order to meet and engage people from other countries and faiths. As we get to know our neighbors, we get to hear their stories, struggles, and dreams. We have been in their homes. We are learning so much about our world.