SHOCKING events happened last Friday in New Zealand with armed men attacking Mosques in Christchurch.
Fifty precious lives were taken, and many more were seriously injured.
The motivation now appears obvious: to kill as many Muslims as possible who were at their Friday prayer gatherings.
While New Zealand is a close neighbour, what brings this horrible event even closer to home is to learn one of the alleged perpetrators was one of us.
The alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant, is an Australian-born personal trainer, raised in northern NSW.
In the hit song, Imagine, John Lennon made a plea for unity that still resonates today. Back in 1971, Lennon wrote:
Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for; and no religion, too.
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
These sentiments seem even more relevant in 2019, especially given last Friday.
Living in peace with all people is definitely a worthy dream.
However, one of the issues that Lennon seems to identify as a blocker to peace is religion.
Is it actually fair to make such a proposition, linking violence with religion?
Do we have to imagine an absence of religion, in order to imagine a world with ‘nothing to kill’ for?
Sadly, if we scan back through history, there’s times where religion has indeed shed blood.
You don’t have to look hard to find a connection that the song alludes to.
I’m only eligible to make comment about my religious persuasion, Christianity.
Here’s what I know to be correct: Jesus Christ did not endorse violence.
Nothing could be further from His example than promoting hatred.
Surely, the teachings of Jesus Christ were radical in their call towards peace.
In His most famous sermon, He dropped some memorable one-liners: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also”.
Or this, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5).
It’s one thing to argue there could be a link between some religious worldviews and violence, what cannot be established is a link between Jesus Christ and violence.
It was said of Him that He was oppressed and afflicted, and yet instead of striking back in hate, “He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53). Jesus got mistreated, but never retaliated.
No doubt over time, some folks who might claim to represent Christ have acted in ways that don’t reflect the teachings aforementioned.
But it’s always worth going back to the original source to clarify things.
Nothing could be more alienating from the teachings of Jesus than the promotion of hate, disunity or revenge.
I have no little trouble visualising Jesus weeping at the lost lives on Friday, March 15 at Christchurch.
It’s rather easy to imagine that.
New Life Baptist Church