All around us war is being waged. The current battle lines may be far away but we know the “enemy” could strike in our community at any moment. Everyone is vulnerable. Everyone is at risk. The world as we know it is changing, abroad and at home. For many the terror isn’t new, we have suffered under various forms of religious terror for decades, and for some all their lives. The names have changed but the toll on human life remains as constant and predictable as a morning sunrise.
I wonder if I appreciate the potential terror I bring to the community. Religious intolerance is just the beginning. Acts of war often emerge from our fear of diversity and the unknown. Feeling inferior, frustrated, and angry are part of the foundation to this conflict. My reflections recall just how often I have played a roll in this process.
A dialogue between God and an old one brings an interesting twist to light. His prayer was simple and direct; “You hold your hand up high, God, but they don't see it. Open their eyes to what you do, to see your zealous love for your people. Shame them. Light a fire under them. Get the attention of these enemies of yours.” (Isaiah 26.11) In short, help us help you.
I find myself looking beyond my fear and seeing people dying for a lack of God. They, including echoes of my self, thirst to experience acceptance and in that thirst experience and participate in bigotry. They long to know the soothing balm of mercy and in that longer dispense justice with little thought of the people involved. They need a hand of compassion; finding none, walk on alone and in mortal silence.
Our focus does not need to be shaped by fear. God is inviting us to reshape our world and the community in which we walk. We can hold the hands of the terrorist. We can share mercy with the undeserving. Our focus can be one of love – for ourselves and for the people in our lives.
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