“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” Acts 9
Ruthless Religious Hatred is nothing new and it isn’t by intellectual reasoning, psychological assessment or social study that we will cauterize the infectious heart ready to kill whatever or whoever poses a perceived threat to our safety and piety. Can we say in the face of organic evil, not the Hollywood edition of rated R kicks we get out of killing, but evil that touches down to our core and sears a sick gut feeling into our mind’s eye–Can we say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” ? If we step outside our religion, outside the familiarity of our chants and creeds and memorized allegiances to our God, what do we see? Do we see ourselves unflinchingly surrendered beneath the sharpened blade of hatred toward our ideal of a Savior? Are the Lord’s Prayer and Apostles’ Creed enough to break our hearts for those who have yet to see the light? God knows at the sight of this message to “The Nation of the Cross,” my own heart hardens first and I eventually, after indignant shock and awe, fearfully pray His Kingdom comes before corruption wins and the rooster crows.
Warning: Graphic Content not Suitable for underage. (I encourage us to be aware of current events and individually resist an attitude of flippancy toward religious freedom. Please stop watching the video at 2:58 if you do not wish to view the graphic portion.)
Two criminals hoisted on either side of Jesus Christ on the cross, one still mocking even to death and the other repentant of what He’d done-imagine the poignancy of a crushed Savior offering paradise to the likes of those whose bloody hearts were unknowingly in His hands as white as snow. One chose life in his dying, revealing that the potency of our religion is not in our level of conviction to kill for its cause but in the evident redeeming power of what it is we claim to believe.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9
To the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Humanists, Hindus, Buddhists, the religious and irreligious, this is not a battle of the intellects. This is not a matter of human will. It’s a matter of power of God unto salvation. A matter of inexplicable conversion that makes us fall to the ground, ready to die, knife to the throat for Christ, not rising up in arms to shed blood for a God whose favor we must ruthlessly win.
Salvation. It’s a miracle, the light that lies beneath our sinful desire for revenge, and rises to the surface as hope for even those who still believe they hold the power of eternity in their murderous hands.
You are the light of the world. You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain. Matthew 5:14
To those of us whose Christianity and affiliation with the cross keeps getting blown down at the huff and the puff of wolves at our window: It’s time we pray for a conversion of our creed into a solid belief in Jesus Christ our Savior, collectively as a nation whose cross has become nothing more than a symbol of shame because we’ve confused political correctness with love. Where is the light? And where is your city on a hill? Do you have a safe place? Don’t depend on your cognitive ability to defend the cross. It will fail you. Go ahead and try to make sense of Isis/Isil. Spend your time figuring out why your wife left you for another man or why your children are all messed up on addiction to sex and drugs. Wring your hands about the political plight of the world. Mourn the sex trade and keep trying to be the best person you can be according to your own understanding of what’s good and bad. You’ll end up right back here with me. A soul searching and needing to be found. God, save me. Save us.