Hatred Is Our Enemy not Religion.

The anger was a searing heat in my heart, and plagued my thoughts constantly with thoughts of revenge. It didn’t completely consume me and thankfully it didn’t lead me to do something I would later regret. However for sometime it was a huge challenge and internal struggle.

Eventually my faith’s emphasis on God’s love in Jesus as well as some good friends, chipped away at my molten encrusted heart and the searing heat of hatred was slowly extinguished. Forgiveness and grace took up their rightful place once again in my life. Perhaps that sounds a bit too easy, but it really wasn’t. When someone or something makes you feel that way it is never easy to move beyond the intensity of that emotion, that ensnares you in the dungeon of its desire.

I am not the only one on the planet who has experienced differing degrees of hate, either towards others, ourselves or perhaps we have been the victim of hate.

Maybe we have seen up close the political or religious rhetoric that really is just hate dressed up in a language that seams reasonable at first, however eventually we discover the predator underneath the language that sounded so logical and perhaps even comforting.

The group of Egyptian Coptic christians beheaded by Isis, are the latest in the growing number, of the many ethnic and religious groups murdered by hate dressed up as religion.

In retaliation Egypt bombed Isis, I am not sure what choice Egypt had to act any differently. My fear is that however, tit for tat, and eye for an eye, just breeds and justifies more hatred, it doesn’t disperse its searing heat.

Behind such ideologies, hatred breeds, contaminating the mind and will, turning people into monsters, the kinds of people in nightmares. Only that for so many the nightmare is a cold stone reality. The men murdered, were not just martyred for their faith in Jesus, but also for there belief in freedom of speech. A freedom I take for granted, both in sharing my faith and saying if I disagree with the authorities without risk of punishment.

Prejudice and hatred stems from an insecurity and a lack of knowledge. May our halls of power, or the discussions had at bars or over a meal in a restaurant, not be debate and conversation that breeds prejudice against a particular faith or individuals. Instead may such debate and conversation  stop short of falling into the trap that hate leaves for all of us.

Moreover let us find value in one-another and for a moment consider the words of the Jesus, that these men and so many other men, women and children who have died in the name of believed in. To love one another as You love yourself and if you feel so inclined love God with all your heart soul and mind.

What might be our response to hate be?  In the comfort of my office chair, I too easily would reply with the well warn gospel passage, that we should love our enemies or those who would do us harm.

Yet with the image of those wearing orange jumpsuits moments before they are martyred in my mind. I pause and consider what does loving your enemy really look like, with a gun or machete pressed against your neck, and a mass grave a metre from where you kneel.

What would you or I do when a man or women has hold of your wife, girlfriend or child, threatening to do unspeakable things too them unless you renounce your faith. Would you, renounce your faith to save your loved ones knowing that God knows your true intentions and heart? Given a chance would you seek away to turn the tables on the enemy in your midst?

What would the loving thing be, how do we live out the colour of our creed, under such intense and overwhelming odds stacked against us. Lastly do we just close our eyes and step into the eternity jesus prepares for those who love him.

There are no simple answers or easy solutions, apart from one, trusting in a God who knows the names of those who died, he sees the martyred  in their final moments. My prayer is that he takes their souls into the eternal comfort and warmth of his love. For those who have renounced their faith, under unbelievable pressure, I want to believe that God sees you, and sees the reasons behind your enforced actions. God’s son son died on the cross for moments like yours, so that there is always away back.

Finally Love always wins, always. Perhaps that day is not today, perhaps it’s not even next year, but love will and has won. That is my prayer for you, that you might know that love, that transforms and overcomes in your lives and circumstances.

Until next week take care.

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