I have been sitting on something for more than a week now—a topic I wasn’t sure how to tackle. But It hasn’t left me which usually means I need to get it out of my head and heart. So here it goes.
Easter Sunday is a day where many gather with friends and family to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. People talk of hope, new beginnings, and forgiveness. Food is shared around tables filled with love, grace, and mercy—a happy day. But this past Easter was far from celebratory for many in Sri Lanka. At least two hundred fifty men, women, and children were murdered because they believed differently than others. The following Monday, more blasts were reported, more injuries, more devastation, more pain.
Shortly after the first bombings were reported, I stood in the foyer of our church and I heard a man say, “This is an attack on our faith.” Another gentleman shook his head and countered, “Any attack on any house of worship is an attack on our faith because it’s an attack on humanity. ”
Now that is an interesting perspective—one I've had to chew on for a while.
It seems like not a day goes by where violence doesn’t fill our news feeds. And as I read the stories, Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts, people are choosing sides without understanding the magnitude of their decisions.
Any time a church, mosque, synagogue, or any other house of worship is attacked, and people are wounded or killed, the responses widely vary. Some respond with comments about attacks on people while others talk about attacks on a specific faith. Then there are those who feel more anger and outrage when such deeds are carried out against like-minded individuals. Others still seem to take little notice when differing faiths or groups are caught in the crosshairs of hateful actions, and then there are those that claim God’s judgment and celebrate when others who believe differently suffer.
So many cry out about attacks on the cross, attacks on beliefs, attacks on sacred ideologies—but first and foremost, these are attacks on people; attacks on families.
Thinking back to the conversation I overheard, I tend to agree that any attack on any church or house of worship, regardless of the faith represented, is an attack on our faith. Why? Because it is an attack on the innocent, it is an attack on men, women, and children; it is an attack on our neighbors, it is an attack on those we are called to love.
And now, thinking about the seemingly constant violent attacks on all faiths, we should be heartbroken by all of it. No other response is appropriate, regardless of the building, the people, the race, the lifestyle.
Easter is a day that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. His life and teachings were and still are filled with love. Love offered to others regardless of differences, regardless of the life they lived. We should do the same.
When we treat our “own” people as more important than others, we narrow our scope of love, grace, and mercy. With such thinking, we cheapen the faith and beliefs we claim to hold dear.