As I type this, my brothers and sisters in Egypt are being burned out of their churches by apparent supporters of former President Morsi.
There is no shock. There is no outrage. There is no call from the UN to stop targeted violence against Christians in Egypt or elsewhere for that matter. I pray for a cessation to the violence and peace and dignity to return to all the Egyptian people.
I pray also for people who marginalize others in this and other ways.
The bumper sticker that says 'Coexist' comes to mind on days like today. Coexist means to exists at the same time. On one level we are all doing that. Everyone. What I believe is being said by this image is that we should all get along.
While this is a nice sentiment, the reality that people face of various faiths is that we don't. Whether it is years of military domination by one group or economic bigotry by another people of different faiths have a hard time getting along.
That is hardly anything new. As a common statement I hear says "Religion is the cause of the most wars and injustice in human history." It is true that people from differing points of view have fought since the dawn of man. How is what is happening now any different? It isn't.
Why can't we all get along?
Because people believe different things.
Differing opinions cause us to come into conflict with one another. How we handle that disagreement is really important. Do I believe that because you have a different system of beliefs (what ever that may be including the most dominant religion of the 21st century-secular humanism) I have to kill you off? No! Does that mean that I can not be in relationship with you? No!
I disagree doesn't mean I hate despite what people would like to propagate. (That is a very hateful view to take!) How can you coexist with others who are trying to kill you or at least marginalize you to the point of extinction? We have beautiful examples of resistance that leads to change through the use of non-violence. Martin Luther King Jr. is a wonderful example not because of his stellar moral character, (which some may question) but his steadfast belief and leadership that fighting violence with violence is not the answer. Jesus used things like forgiveness and mercy to deal with those who opposed him. Why can't we? I won't speak for other systems of faith, but I can speak for Christianity. We follow a guy who got murdered. He didn't set up a government and oppress thousands or millions. Has that been done in the name of Christendom? Of course. This is the same way it has been done in the name of any other system of beliefs (See the 30-40 million Stalin killed in the Ukraine). Jesus didn't pick physical, emotional or spiritual violence as a way forward, even when it was executed against him. When we choose this road we become worse than what we combat.
The point I am trying to make is that as a Christian, I am committed to not burning mosques or other places of faith (banks, institutions of higher learning?). I am committed to living with others in a way that isn't simple co-existence but with love and respect.
That doesn't mean I will agree with you or condone what you do. If everyone simply condoned what everyone did it would be one weird world. I believe the term is anarchy.
I believe that in the history of humanity no organization has done more good than the church.
Even when we are being bombed, burned, persecuted and reviled.
In light of what is happening in Egypt, Nigeria and other places around the world the church needs to respond. Stand for justice, minister compassion to the oppressed, heal the wounded, plead the cause of the widow and orphan. In the words of Jesus, 'Forgive them Father. They do not know what they are doing.' May we do the same.