Terror and Peace

July 2, 2002 The Pakistan Star (Toronto Edition)

This past Friday a bomb blast rocked the American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. The act was carried out by a suicide bomber driving a Suzuki van into the surrounding protective barriers. The toll was 11 killed and numerous people injured. Those killed were primarily Pakistanis. Sadly it was but another violence wracked day in a long history of violence. Many mourned the violence, and long for peace and security. But some think otherwise..

Why has this brutal violence flared up once again? Why does it continue to occur over and over? Why do we see Islam and brutal violence together again and again? Why do those who kill act with such callous disregard for life, their own lives included? What is it that motivates them? What is it that brings men to fight what they perceive to be evil and destructive and in so doing become participants in far greater evil and destruction themselves? What is it about the heart of man that leads to this? What kind of worldview or mentality is it that persuades men that evil and brutality are good and necessary? To believe as the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth declared "that foul is fair, and fair is foul"?

A Pakistani Muslim friend told me some time ago of the corrupt grip of Islamic radicalism on the educational systems of Pakistan. He argued that it was the mullahs, the madrassas, certain Islamic student unions and their preying upon the disaffected intellectuals to the poverty stricken and frustrated, along with their intimidation of others, that led to such evil and violence. He said it was that the hopeless were indoctrinated into believing that by a 'heroic' death of murdering civilians, under the name or aim of Islamic expansion, there would be certain entry into paradise.

Recently I read of the publishing of an open letter to those who practice Islam. It called them to self-examination. To not side-step the heart issues, but to face them head on. It asked why is it that there is debate also in the North American Muslim community over the events of the past year? Why not unanimous and wholehearted condemnation of violence among those within the mosques and Islamic centers? Why there were/are feelings of sympathy, support, or even jubilation among some at the events of September 11? And disappointment by some that September 11 did not lead to the downfall of America, but appeared to be merely a bump in the road to that nation? Why do the same long for the implementation of sharia in North America and Europe? Is it the claimed desire for peace that rules, or is it for some at heart a hatred and callousness against any who would stand in the way of a lust for power and control? Can there really ever be true peace or happiness within a worldview founded by violence and intimidation? Or will it prove itself to be merely a vortex of increasing suspicion and violence leading to self-destruction? These are questions that must be answered if truth and peace are truly to prevail.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the day when the Promised One would come (Isaiah 9:6-7). The Prince of Peace is Jesus Christ. This is illustrated when he spoke of the day when the Child would be born and His name would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" and whose peace would increase and come to prevail by the power of the Lord. The Bible teaches this many times in the Injil, or Gospel. In John chapter 18:1-11, we read of the account of Jesus' wrongful arrest, and how his disciple Peter drew his sword and attacked his enemies, cutting the ear off one. Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword. The same event is recorded in the writing of Luke who gives us the added information that Jesus at the same time healed the man who had been injured. (Luke 22:51) Time and again we see the Gospel teaching that Jesus came to bring peace -- that is peace with God, reconciling men to God through His sacrifice for their sins. He taught time and again that the fruit, the result of peace with God will be at peace with your fellow man. Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hurt you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-45)

The Bible teaches that Jesus' death was a self-sacrifice of love. Love for men and women who by their sin had become the enemies of God. Jesus took upon Himself the punishment and penalty of God's wrath against sinners -- those who rejected and ignored God and His true way. That is real grace and love -- forgiveness by God, through Jesus for everyone who will repent of sin and seek forgiveness by Him. So it is the love of Jesus Christ -- who died selflessly for those who least deserved it, who sought forgiveness even for those who treated Him violently and abusively, and who taught that true religion can never be advanced by the sword -- it is His love that stands in stark contrast to the beliefs of those who live by violence. It is His love that makes men willing to peacefully stand up for truth, even if the cost is death. (consider the Christians who died while worshipping in the Protestant International Church in Islamabad in March 2002, and those in Bahawalpur in October 2002, all who were slain because they dared worship God for His grace and love in Jesus Christ, rather than give in to threats and intimidation). It is God's love and true way of peace that exposes the darkness of a falsehood that would lead men to destroy both themselves and others.

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