Tag Archives: religion

A world at war

france church attack

When I was a child the one thing I hated most on TV was news. I hated news with a passion. If by bad luck I found myself watching news and was in a situation where I couldn’t leave the room, I would cover my ears with my hands, just so I wouldn’t hear what was being read out. Yeah, it was that bad. But it wasn’t difficult to figure why I felt that way about news; I’ve never liked anything which revolves around horror and on a typical day, the things one hears on the news are about accidents, bombings, political wars, starvation and such horrid stuff.

Thankfully, as I was growing up, my attitude towards news changed gradually as I developed a liking for matters politics. So now I can’t say I hate news. However, I’m sure if I was a child at the moment, I would possibly hate news more than I even did before. Reason being, it’s too depressing watching news.

Wednesday for instance, I woke up to the news of the France church attack in St. –Étienne-Du-Rouvray, where an 85 year old priest was killed. The attack was allegedly carried out by two radical Islamists, one of whom was identified as a 19-year old man.

Not too long ago, there was the Turkey airport attack, and the other attack in Nice, France, where a Tunisian-born French national mowed through a crowd of people in a truck, zig-zagging past the masses and shooting to maximize the number of deaths. In that incident, at least 84 people were killed, among them children. An eye-witness said bodies were just falling like bowling pins. It was gut-wrenching.

Following the inhumane attack in Normandy, the Pope expressed pain and horror at such callousness, where a priest was brutally murdered in his own church. He said the world was at war, but it wasn’t religious.

I can’t begin to explain what I felt when I heard of the attack. It’s impossible to comprehend why two human beings, in their right minds would think of killing a priest. If a man of God, standing before a sacred altar can’t be deemed as an innocent, then life has lost meaning; the world is indeed coming to an end.

I’ve tried to understand why innocent people are being killed like worthless bugs, and there’s no reason in the world that could possibly make me see the sense in such wanton murders. Guys who knew the 19-year old said he always had sadistic ideas, which they said were based on wrong quotations of the Quran and each time they would try to talk him out of it.

What I refuse to understand, is how someone would boldly, and unprovoked, take innocent lives in the name of God/religion. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that God wouldn’t be in favour of such ruthless killings. If the same God this attackers claim to kill in the name of, is the same one the rest of the Muslim population serves, then why are they against it? Why do Muslim clerics condemn it? Isn’t this a clear indication to these attackers that what they’re doing is absolutely wrong?

Reports say that the Muslim community mourned in the wake of the Normandy attack. Doesn’t this say something to those few who have made it their business to go killing innocent people? Islam is a beautiful religion. I have many friends who are Muslims and they are wonderful people. So why would a few misguided individuals want to sully that?

When I heard of the attack, I was like, “Not again!” My heart bled; for the victims and for the Muslim population. For the former because of the loss of life, and for the trauma the survivors must have suffered; and for the latter, because of how their religion keeps being painted in such bad light.

Pope Francis said the world was at war, but it wasn’t a religious one and I agree with him. I reckoned, every religion has a few ‘bad apples’; individuals who can’t help but create a bad image for that particular religion. So does that justify the rest of the world to judge a religion harshly because of those misguided few? I would think not.

In my case for instance, I would really hate it if someone thought my church was full of paedophiles because a few priests have been accused of molesting children. In that same light, it wouldn’t be fair to label all Muslims terrorists because of the few who go about perpetuating cold-blooded killings in the name of Islam; because one thing I’ve gathered is that Islam explicitly condemns terrorism. In any case, Islam respects all human beings and faiths.

What I’m trying to get at is simple; there are too many problems globally. It would be calamitous, if God-forbid, we converted them into a religious war. There are diverse religions in the world, each with its own beliefs and practices. Instead of letting those differences divide us, we should embrace them and respect them, appreciating that it’s those same differences which make us unique. The world would be such a boring place if we were all alike, don’t you think?

The way I see it, instead of shunning our neighbours because they don’t share the same beliefs we do, we should respect them; and if there are issues in conflict, the best way to solve them would be to do a little research so we can get enlightened. That way, we won’t harbour unfounded suspicions, which are merely based on ignorant hearsay.

united religions

God’s greatest command to mankind is to love; and it’s not hard to understand why. Love is that magical cord, which binds us all together, irrespective of our numerous differences. Now, more than ever before, the world needs love, not war.

 

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How to deal with non-believers

united-seeing past differences

I’ve never understood why, but some Christians treat all non-believers like they’re sinners and will therefore go to hell. Well here are a few words of enlightenment: be wise in the way you act towards those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone (Colossians 4: 5-6).

Sometimes I come across Christians who say they are saved, but the things they do/say leave me with so many doubts about their salvation. In many of my posts, I’ve talked about the issue of judging others; acting all self-righteous and all. What makes me question someone’s idea of salvation is not because I feel I’m a better Christian, but because I wonder, if I wasn’t really a believer already, how many of the Christians I’ve met would convince me to give my life to Christ?

From what I have gathered over time, everyone has a justified reason as to why they do/don’t profess a certain faith. If someone is a non-believer, does that mean they will automatically be damned to hell on judgement day? Not really. In any case Jesus believed that some pagans are better than those who call themselves believers.

Some of us feel like they are warranted to condemn others because they are believers and in their eyes, those who don’t believe in God are sinners. According to many Bible verses, God hates self-righteousness. In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus told a parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else:

“Once there were two men who went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like the tax collector over there. I fast two days a week and give you a tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his head to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’

I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.”

So when a believer shouts, “You will go to hell!” to a non-believer, what does one suppose God thinks of that believer? It is not our place to condemn. Only an ignorant person would assume that all those who don’t believe in God will be damned.

In his letter to the Colossians 2: 16-19, Paul says, “So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon festival or the Sabbath. All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insists on false humility and the worship of angels.

For no reason at all, such a person is all puffed up by his human way of thinking and has stopped holding on to Christ, who is the head of the body.”

Identifying ourselves as Christians, makes us believe we know exactly what’s wrong; who is right or not, but the truth is, only God knows who is guilty/innocent. If a believer assumes that a neighbour who doesn’t go to church has already booked a ticket to hell, then one ought to know that those we condemn might actually be the ones who are actually right in the eyes of God.

In Proverbs 16: 2, King Solomon says, “You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives.” So it really doesn’t matter if one spends all their time in church praying, fasting and tithing religiously every month.

Jesus condemns hypocrisy. In Matthew 23: 23-27, He says, “How terrible of you teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the law, such as justice and mercy and honesty.

These you should practice without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel! How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness. Blind Pharisees!

Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too! How terrible for you, teachers of law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.”

In very simple words, Jesus is the holiest man, who has ever walked this earth, yet He didn’t go around castigating those who didn’t believe in Him/His Father. He loved everyone, without discriminating and used the best examples to inspire love for His Father and not fear in people’s hearts. So if He didn’t despise, why should we?

If Jesus popped in on a conversation between you-a Christian-and a non-believer, would He be proud of you, or would He unleash the ‘hypocrite!’ admonishment on you? If you were a non-believer, would a Christian doing the things you do, both in public and in private, convince you to join the faith?

 

Burning churches

burning church

Lately I’m seeing an abominable trend; whenever there are religious differences between people from different faiths, places of worship get torched. This has me all worried; when did it become okay for people to set ablaze places of worship as retaliation? I’m a Christian, but I’ve read about other religions; I haven’t come across any religion that teaches its people to disregard other religions; that teaches people to be impious.

Growing up, I was taught that the church is a holy zone; it’s the house of God. As I mentioned in a previous post, petty issues like talking in church were forbidden. It just came naturally; whenever I set foot in the church I was supposed to observe silence, to show respect to God. No one told me it was particularly a sin, but it felt wrong doing otherwise. That was just petty chatting; now we’re talking about people setting the same buildings on fire.

Honestly, I’ve never stepped into a Hindu temple, but I respect it as the Hindus’ place of worship; I’ve never stepped into a mosque, but I respect it as the Muslims’ place of worship; I’ve never been to a synagogue either, but I respect it as the Jews’ place of worship. I respect those places as much as I respect my own church.

One thing I know is that we can’t all be Christians; we can’t all be Muslims; we can’t all be Hindus; we can’t all be Jews… Each one of us is entitled to make their own choice; to choose the faith they want to profess. It’s impossible to force something as sensitive as faith down one’s throat. Now with that in mind, I believe we should respect other people’s choices, and strive to co-exist peacefully. We don’t all have to share a common faith to embrace peace.

God is revered as The Almighty; He can wipe out the world’s population in an instant. Nothing is impossible to Him. If He can do that, why then isn’t everyone a believer? He would have made everyone believe in Him, but He didn’t; because He respects our choices; they do come with consequences, but He respects them. He gave us free will, to make our own decisions.

In the bible, the one incident I remember seeing Jesus really angry was when He found people selling their wares in the church (Matthew 21:12). He threw them out. That makes me wonder, if He was that angry because people had turned His Father’s house into a market, into a hideout for thieves, what does He feel when He sees people burning churches up?

My two cents worth on the matter; burning up churches is unadulterated sacrilege. Anyone who sets churches on fire or destroys places of worship isn’t just waging war against mankind, but against God.