Apr 162013 6 Responses

Belief, Bombs, and Boston

What if it was one of us?

What if the culprit was from my tribe or had my characteristics or believed like me and tragically thought this would make our point?

What if he was my family member, friend, or child?

What if he was a she and was my daughter, wife, or sister?

How would I feel? What would I think?

Clearly I would expect consequences; judgment would need to be served. Someone other than me would have to determine the outcome and they would have to be severe.

But my hope would be that no one would confuse this tragic act with me, with my people, with my beliefs, with the things for which I stand. Even if the culprit were family, I would hope others would be able to know I don’t condone violence or believe in murder or would have any part in such an act.

I would hope others would treat me that way.

So that is how I must treat others.

When the investigation is over, when the defendants are named, when the twisted reasoning is revealed, I cannot use the actions of a few to define the character of the many. I must give the grace I would want. I must extend the kindness I would need. I must use the discernment I would desire others to use. Even if they are my political opponent or of a different religion or from a different country. Even if this act confirms everything I want to believe about a whole group of people, I cannot define others by the actions of a few.

We don’t do that anymore in this country.

We don’t use common sense or common grace or common decency with those who disagree with us. We label and demean and defame in hopes of scoring a cheap political point.

  • If someone wants a new gun regulation, they are against the 2nd Amendment; if someone believes new gun laws won’t work, they are a vigilante.
  • If someone believes in traditional marriage, they are a bigot; if someone believes in same-sex marriage, they are a heretic.
  • If someone wants to defend our country, they are bloodthirsty; if someone wants a reasonable discussion of war, they are a coward.

There is no discernment, no nuance, no ability to understand the other side. There is nothing but trite Facebook quotes and childish arguments which deny the complexities of life. There is a constant game of division and finger-pointing. There is an unending barrage of blame placed upon others for every problem in the world.

It’s a tempting game to play, but it is one we must refuse.

Imagine if tomorrow’s headline read that a Christian intentionally killed people at a marathon in the name of Jesus. It’s horrifying to consider. Nothing would be more unlike Jesus than such a cowardly act. If that happened I would quickly proclaim to all who would listen that neither this action nor this man represent Christ. I would plead with people to seek the truth about Jesus and not simply define all Christians by the evil actions of one person who calls himself a Christian. I would hope that even those who do not believe in Christianity would admit that such an action is unlike Christ and therefore not a true representation of Christianity.

If that is how I want to be treated, that is how I must treat others.

Even if the culprit is part of a group against everything I am for, even if he is of the opposite political party, a different religion, for a different social order, I will not use his actions to define every person of that party, religion, or belief. I will not blame them by association because I do not want to be blamed by association.

To do otherwise is to act unlike Christ.




6 Responses to Belief, Bombs, and Boston
  1. […] Initial fears were that the act was carried out by Syrian refugees. In the last few years, over four... https://www.kevinathompson.com/why-we-hope-the-refugees-did-it

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