Posted by: L. E. Barnes | January 5, 2011

Meeting Fear with Faith, and Forgiveness

In case you haven’t heard, a Coptic church in Egypt was attacked a few days ago, and tensions still run high:

Pope Benedict responded with this message:

The most recent issue of a Christian magazine that my parents subscribe to has several articles dealing with the importance of forgiveness, with examples of people forgiving murderers (such as how the Amish in a Pennsylvania town forgave the man who murdered several Amish girls several years ago). Forgiving can be very difficult. I’ve at times struggled with holding hard feelings against people who have treated me unkindly or unfairly; I’ve never been in the position of having to forgive someone who murdered a loved one. I know that I must, since we are commanded by Christ to forgive–and He of course forgave His own killers and forgives us for sinning against Him. But I find it hard to forgive people such as the extremists who murdered those Coptic Christians recently. Yet we must do so, despite our normal inclinations to seek vengence.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that violence or injustice should be tolerated:

May the Lord have mercy on the perpetrators of attack on the Coptic Christians, may He receive the souls of those martyred Christians into His kingdom, and may more be done to relieve the oppression of our Christian brethren in Egypt.

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Responses

  1. Thank you Evan. So little of this is covered in the media. It is hard to imagine what living as a Christian under these conditions must be like. We are so insulated.

    • Right. I really can’t imagine what it’s like living under such conditions. May God help our fellow Christians who are suffering under such persecution.

  2. God bless the Copts. They have never had it easy since the Muslims came hundreds of years ago. All of the Copts I’ve ever met have been gentle people.

    • When I see the way Muslims treat the Copts and other religious minorities, I get so infuriated by their double standards. Many Muslims will fly into a rage if they so much as think that they or their religion has been disrespected, but they don’t seem to show such anger when their coreligionists commit terrible acts of oppression of violence against followers of other faiths. Absolute hypocrisy…

  3. I have trouble getting angry at a particular group over things like these attacks because I think that the general nastiness and cruelty with which humanity treats its members naturally gives rise to more cruelty and nastiness. We see it in our country, too, among people who have nothing to do with Islam. (As witness: Tucson.) It’s not that any of these people are blameless, or shouldn’t be held accountable, but in the end, the only way to change it is to change the messages that get sent over and over and over. Right now, they’re all violence and bigotry (in both directions) and hatred. And punishing them by executions or military action or whatever–all of those things will only perpetuate the cycle.

    I think the same way about people who contracept and about people who choose to abort their disabled kids; it’s not that they’re without accountability, but really, in a world where the messages are so strong and not counterbalanced by a Godly message, how can we expect people to do other than exactly what they do? Changing it is not a legsislative act, but something much more “subsersive”; by which I mean, it has to start with us, in tiny, incremental pilot lights that, we hope at least, will someday explode into a huge fire of the Spirit.

    • I still get angry with them, but I see your point. True, violence and bigotry are not limited to any particular group of people, and to cut off the root of the problem requires changing people’s hearts and minds, not simply resorting to brute force. On the one hand, I’m still not a pacifist and reject the cliche that “violence never solves anything” (sorry, but not all problems can be resolved through peaceful means, and yes, waging war does solve things–sometimes for the worse, but sometimes it eradicates certain problems that could not have been eradicated otherwise, e.g., Hitler’s attempt at world domination). But using force should, at least ideally, be only a last resort, and I agree with you that “tiny, incremental pilot lights” are often what lead to a “huge fire of the Spirit.” So what does that mean for us? Spread the Word!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Evan

  4. Yes, that’s true, I doubt that pilot lights would have done away with Hitler. I am not particularly a pacifist, but I don’t think I have any control over whether or not we go to war, so I don’t tend to argue war vs. peace; I look at things from the perspective of what I (and realistically, almost all of us) are capable of affecting in the world. I think sometimes we get so upset about big picture things that we forget that our power is to change the one pixel of the picture that is our own sphere of influence. I’m all over promoting NFP and appreciation for those with disabilities. Even still, those two things, which are inside my sphere of influence often feel totally overwhelming.

    • Well said!
      We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can work on our little piece of it. (Or I like how you put it: ‘one pixel of the picture.’) And doing that has the potential to lead to changes in other places as well. Of course, sometimes just dealing our ‘pixel’ can seem overwhelming, so we just need to focus on what we can do.


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