Sending More Than Thoughts and Prayers

Christchurch, New Zealand is in mourning today. A man went on a shooting spree that killed 49 Muslims and injured at least 48 more. The man before going on this terrorist attack against the Muslim community posted a 74-page manifesto or white supremacy and anti-Muslim hate. Unbelievably, he wore a camera and live streamed 17 minutes of the brutal killing on social media.

As our 24 news cycle runs, there won’t be enough information and even fewer facts to fill up those 1,440 minutes that make up the day. So, there will be opinion, speculation, thoughts and prayers, and of course finger pointing. “It was the Radical Right who bred this monster.” “It’s the Extreme Left who created the situation that led to this.” “This was payback for Muslim terrorist.” “This is God’s Judgement.” Each and every one of these finger-pointing statements is wrong.

Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV)

Now is the time for some self-reflection. It is time to ask “what have I said or done that may have encouraged this kind of action?” Now is the time to ask “what have I failed to do or say to discourage this kind of action?”

Too often I have failed to speak out against the kind of hate, hate speech, fearmongering and religious intolerance that breed a terrorist capable of killing and wounding so many. I too often dismiss white supremacist to the fringe of society and culture. Too often I forget how hate is like cancer and spreads. I haven’t done all I can to stop the spread of this poison.

This is not the time to merely send thoughts and prayers, yes thoughts and prayers are good; this is the time to examine oneself instead of blame others. Playing a game of pin the blame on your opponent got us into this situation. Let’s stop playing. Let each and every one of us take responsibility for what we have done and take responsibility for what we should have done but left undone.

Even though I am a Christian, Muslims are not my enemy. They are my neighbor. Those who demonize Muslims as enemies of Christianity are wrong. Jesus told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ . . . ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

Now is the time I must show love to my Muslim neighbors. Now I must grieve with them; now I must do whatever I can to help restore their wellbeing. For that is Love.

Some people still have memories of terrorist attacks by Muslims on their mind. Some people can’t accept Muslims as our neighbors. Some people have labeled them as enemies. However, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” If you declare Muslims as your enemy, then now is the time to love them. Now more than ever, the Muslim community has been hurt, now more than ever, we need to apply the healing balm of love. Now is the time to act like Jesus.

Trying to figure who is to blame is for the politicians. They need to score the political points and set policy. For those of us who follow Jesus, the call is clear, go and love.

As the 24-hour news cycle spins out of control, please don’t get caught up in it. Take a break and practice some of the spiritual disciplines. Pause and practice centering prayer, silence, journaling, fasting.

Cry out with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 KJV)

Let us show the love of Jesus to our neighbors who are hurting. I am encouraging you to act in a tangible way. The New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups has launched a crowdfunding campaign to collect funds helping victims of the attacks and their families. Please donate. You can find the official crowdsource funding page here:https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/christchurch-shooting-victims-fund

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