It has been a tough few days. A group of people went around Brussels with the intent to do as much harm as possible. This attack follows an attack a few days ago in Turkey. And then the Easter Sunday attack in Pakistan. This was a post that I had originally intended to post after the Paris attacks in November, but for some reason did not. However, the beginning of the two posts are disturbingly similar. Replace Brussels with Paris and Turkey with Beirut and Nigeria and the post, more or less, looks the same.
I’ve seen a wide range of responses to the Paris and Brussels attacks both on social media and in traditional media. The responses have ranged from from #prayforparis to we need to put boots on the ground. The fact of the matter is there is very little any one of us can do on our own. Geopolitical issues of this magnitude, frankly, are beyond most of us.
The most any of us can do is to simply love our neighbor. Whatever response you advocate, peaceful or not, one thing we can all do right now is to love our neighbor. This isn’t a flippant, cliche response to a tragedy. This is a command from Jesus. We are called to first, love God and second, love our neighbor. It is the most effective tool that we as average citizens have to combat all of the violence and hate in this world.
Extremism, violence, and hatred are not born in a terrorist training ground in Syria or Iraq. They are born within the divisions of society, in the walls we put up between us and our neighbors. To advocate for the expulsion of an entire group of people based on the actions of an extreme few is at best not helpful. It is at worst, a sin. On a societal level, it only makes divisions deeper and more complicated. On a ministry level, it voids a great opportunity for evangelism.
Personally, I am enraged that anyone would take such a dim view of life and take several lives, along with their own, to further their own warped agenda. I am equally appalled at the fact that people would take these tragedies and use them to further their own divisive political agendas.
The biggest fallacy that we face today is the idea that we have to agree in order to get along. Nothing could be further from the truth. But If we make an effort to understand one another, then we can work together towards breaking down walls.
Often times the most loving thing we can do for someone is to listen. Listening to someone who we do not share a background with or don’t agree with takes some humility.
Listening is hard. I get that. I am a triplet. I am hardwired to argue, not listen. But listening to someone, allowing them to have a voice, also is a great way to open doors and break down walls.
The situation in the Middle East and in Europe is complex. But with some prayer, an open heart, and open ears, we can continue our efforts in ministering to the people God has put into our lives.