In the aftermath of Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad’s bombings, I struggle with turning the other check – especially when so many people are killed in the name of religious extremism. There are many things that Jesus tells us – and this is one of the harder ones for me to get through my head. Perhaps it’s the number of fist fights I had as a child with any one of my brothers. Turning the other check typically means you get slapped twice. But what do you do when Jesus tells you to do it…
As I said, for me, it’s a struggle.
What I can wrap my mind around is to not take out my revenge on innocent people. Often in the wake of violence committed by a certain group, there is a backlash against anyone that has similarities with that group. Muslims and Sikhs after 9/11 were the target of hate even as they have nothing to do with the terrorists that carried out the attacks. In the same way that terrorists strike out against innocent civilians to give expression to their rage, supremacists and US based hate groups in their anger at 9/11 lashed out against innocent Muslim and Sikh civilians to give expression to their rage. Both are wrong.
There is nothing about Islam that is hate filled more than there is anything about Christianity that is hate filled. Any word of God can be twisted to accomplish hate. Dylan Roof, who shot and killed 9 people at a Black church, was a Lutheran out of the ELCA. He does not represent me, nor do the terrorists represent Muslims. This is important for us to acknowledge publically as Christians. Not everyone of any certain group shares the same ideology. This is true of every ethnicity, including white people.
And as Christians, we get to be peacemakers who turn other check to hate. For some of us, I included, this may be hard, especially as hate may come in the form of terrorism, and also when it comes as hate-talk, and hate-action against specific religious and ethnic group. Just now, a Muslim British woman was shoved in front of an oncoming train at a rail platform of the London Underground. In the next week, speak up for the innocent, not only Parisians but also Muslims and Sikhs who continue to face unwarranted and terrorist-inspired hate violence. This includes all the crude that floats through your inbox, for blessed are the peacemakers. Stand up to the violence and the hate – all of it.