The bleak and tragic events in Brussels sadly form yet another part of a growing litany of such terrorist atrocities which are now spreading across Europe like a plague. The same terrors that have blighted the poor people of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and others, are on the move. All these people leave is and death and destruction in their wake. We can't keep ignoring the issue.
How, if at all, do we make any sense of it? Here is just one Biblical but important perspective in what is clearly a very complex issue. It starts with an essential question.
Who do we serve?
People of no faith may find the question meaningless - although a journey through the ideological nightmares of 20th century communism and fascism should remind all of us, that it is not only 'religious believers' who readily give themselves over to a crusading ideological cause. Militant ideologies have a very strong appeal and those who espouse them frequently show little regard for our cherished values of freedom of speech, of belief and other human rights.
Putting that to one side for a moment, I am really thinking today of all those millions of decent, peaceful and community-minded people who profess a belief in God. I suggest that all of us should ask the question, regardless of our religious affiliation, as to the nature of the God we claim to serve and believe in. Why is this important? Well, listen for a moment to what Jesus Christ says in this passage from the Gospel of John (part of the New Testament in the Bible).
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jesus is speaking these tough words to his own people (the Jews), whom he challenged without reserve because they held a FALSE view of God. They thought they knew God and were doing His will. Jesus had other ideas entirely. They thought they were serving God, but Jesus says quite the opposite. He said without fear or favour, that what you do by your actions, shows the god you are really serving. To his critics, he maintained that the god they were serving was the devil (or Satan) himself and not the true God. The devil is a liar; 'he was a murderer from the beginning.' It didn't go down well but Jesus told them the unpalatable truth. 'You have got it serously wrong!'
This teaching of Jesus is so vitally important to all times, and especially now. It is this. If we commit murder in the name of God, the god that we are serving is not the true god at all. For how can a loving, holy and righteous God commit murder or demand that his followers do the same? On that basis, God would be like the devil. What would be the difference? Those of no faith are asking this same question today and they have every right to do so.
The Bible is clear. To commit any murder therefore, is not the work of the true God. Jesus makes this point as do his apostles. There are plenty of other examples from the Old Testament and the New Testament that illustrate this truth. Murder is forbidden by God as we see from the commandments that God gave to Moses recorded in Exodus 20:13 (Old Testament or, Jewish Bible (Tanakh)).
Jesus goes further still. Listen to what he says: "You have heard that is was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-44).
This is the Father's will, says Jesus. We must love one another, even those we regard us as enemies. The purposes of a righteous and holy God are never served by bombs, bullets and terror, but by love, truth, mercy, forgiveness and goodness. With that in mind, what kind of god do such any deological terrorist acts really serve? Jesus has given his answer. They do not serve the works of the true and living God but they do serve the purposes of that ancient imposter.
Friends, let us weigh up these things without prejudice. If our 'truth' does not lead us to love one another, then what kind of 'truth' do we really possess?
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