This is the text of an article I wrote for ‘Credo’ in the Newark Advertiser – reflecting on the events in Brussels.
I am writing this article on Tuesday 22 March – a date when the world has been shocked by yet another act of terrorism, this time in Brussels. Many innocent people have been injured and killed. Fear and uncertainty abound in that city and we wonder – where will be next?
Undoubtedly, once again, people will see that the so-called Islamic State have claimed responsibility and as a result some will have their views reinforced that religion is a force for evil in the world rather than good. But of course the people that do these evil things are not truly following their religion. The Muslim Council of Britain immediately condemned the attacks and said ‘We are shocked to hear about the terror attacks in Brussels, coming as they did only a few days after the horrific atrocities in Istanbul. (We) hope the killers are brought to justice and face the full force of the law.’
Christians have just celebrated their most important religious festival, Easter. The festival starts with Good Friday, which commemorates the barbaric death of an innocent person who had fuelled religious tensions. On this occasion it was not a terrorist network that killed the innocent but the legitimate government at that time, the Roman Empire, in league with the religious authorities. Jesus had to die because he challenged the status quo, because he said inflammatory things like ‘many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first’ which those in positions of power found threatening.
He also preached a message of love: his words ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart … and love one another as you love yourself’ sum everything up. That is the fundamental message of Christianity – the two objects of love cannot be separated or chosen between. If you are to love God you must also love one another. You can’t love God if you are indifferent to others, and certainly not if you hate them and try to kill them. I am certain that all true Muslims would agree, which is why they so clearly condemn the actions of Daesh.
The events of the first Easter changed the world for ever. We who would call ourselves followers of Jesus must continue to live in accordance with his instructions. We must show our love for God by loving all our fellow human beings, we must help those who are ‘last’ – the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the bereaved – and we must never allow the events of the world to cause us to act in hatred.
It’s not always an easy path to take – and Jesus recognized it. No-one is capable of keeping to the path all the time. But imagine how much better the world would be if everyone lived in accordance with those principles. Why not join those of us who are trying?