to humans, to animals, to our environment, to our economy, to our education, to our finances, and to our health
By: Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman
Terrorism and the Church
Every time we hear of an act of terrorism, our heart skips a beat and we feel a deep inner sorrow for the victims of the terrorism, most of all. However, we also have a sense of sorrow for those who commit these acts, because of the utter hardness of heart and depravity that would allow them to do such evil things. The sorrow we felt over the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on four jumbo jet passenger planes, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was debilitating, for it came on the heels of the sorrow we have been feeling over the unimaginable suffering inflicted upon most of the animals that are raised for their flesh, by-products, and body parts.
This tragedy is all part of our collective lack of compassion for our fellow creatures, whether human or otherwise. The same kind of mentality that takes joy in killing a deer, running a sword or spear into a bull, boiling a live lobster or cat, running a factory farm, setting off a car bomb, also takes pleasure in flying loaded passenger planes into buildings. And in the midst of this, many Christians who are to be the peacemakers of this world, sit at their church and home dinners munching on the remains of suffering creatures while desiring to take revenge for such actions against humans.
Many seem to want revenge against people for violence inflicted against us, and from what we've seen, some people want revenge against any Moslem, or people who look like them or have similar accents. We have forgotten that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Hebrews 10:30).
Why aren't more churches decrying the abuse to humans that is going on in many parts of the world every day? Why aren't we speaking out against the abuse, and yes, terrorism, against billions of animals in our own country? We believe that it's because we don't personally feel the pain.
When will the Church and the world learn that all these evil acts are tied together and are opposed to God's desire for our lives? When will we open our eyes and ears to the suffering around us and to the increase of violence in almost every aspect of our society? When will we begin speaking out with a commanding cry for peace and compassion? When will we learn to live by our Biblical teachings in their true context, and not in some distorted interpretation to try to justify our evil acts?
Think about what we are taught in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11):
3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - If we are truly poor in spirit then we will also feel the pain and anguish of every other living creature, whether human or non-human, and do something to help eliminate their suffering.
4. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." - We mourn over the loss of a loved one whether a human or a companion animal, or for those caught in the tragedy of 11 September 2001, but those who truly mourn, also mourn over the pain of every human and animal, and do something to comfort them,
5. "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." - There is no gentleness in hunting, factory farming, or in acts of terrorism, and we are to be the gentle ones to set the example for the whole world.
6. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." - If we truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, then we will take a stand against all evil forces in our society, and no longer accept those corrupt things that give us personal, short term, satisfaction.
7. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." - If we are not merciful to the whole of God's creation, how can we expect to receive mercy for ourselves? The simple answer is, we can't!
8. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - If we are pure in heart, then we will not participate (directly or indirectly) in any act of violence that is inflicted upon any human, animal, or the environment.
9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God." - The apostle Paul tells us that the whole of creation anxiously awaits the revealing of the children of God to eliminate its suffering (Romans 8:18-25). Based on the amount of suffering in this world, there seem to be very few peacemakers, and thus very few children of God.
10. "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - We hear of very little persecution of this type, because it is far easier to close our eyes and ears to the evil around us and to keep quiet, than it is to go against the "norm" of society that promotes violence.
11. "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me." - If we aren't experiencing these things, then we are probably not doing much to promote the peaceful kingdom of God, and thus evil and violence flourish in the world.
If the Church all over the world began to live by these principles, we would indeed change the world, and eliminate the violence around us. We should be making people who participate in violent activities (directly or indirectly) to feel uncomfortable about what they are doing, until they no longer do such things. It's time for us to stand up, speak out, and be counted as true peacemakers.
The intent of this series is to wake up and encourage the Church to greater works of love and compassion (John 14:12). It is not to condemn the Church, in general, or any individual, any more than Jesus condemned the woman caught in adultery. Jesus said to her, "...go your way. From now on sin no more." (John 8:11) And this is our message to the Church: Recognize our sins of the past and go forth seeking to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), correcting the sins of the past, for that is the only way we can truly show the world that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, might, and mind, including the whole of creation, which includes our neighbors whom we are to love as ourselves.
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