They will know us by our love

I along with a lot of others watched in horror yesterday evening – I couldn’t believe what was coming up on the BBC news website yesterday – a bomb blast in Oslo? The idea that anyone would want to terrorise Norway was just inconceivable to me. But it got worse – a man dressed as a policeman who went out to a youth camp and started purposefully shooting teenagers and those working at the camp. One news site was giving live camera feed from a helicopter over the island of Utøya and quickly cut away – but not before I saw people in the water.

People trying to swim to safety.

I was not surprised to see Fox News (and several other ‘news’ sites) immediately jumping onto the Islamic terrorist bandwagon.

How to explain then as we discover the shooter (and possibly the one who planted the car bomb in Oslo) was a right-wing conservative Christian?

They will know us by our love

Words I know to be true. I don’t think that’s the exact words used in the New Testament, but certainly I can testify that what drew me to think maybe this fairytale sounding nonsense they called the bible had some truth to it was seeing the church really loving one another.

Not 24 hours before the heinous events in Norway started to unravel did I have a friend say to me how she was jealous of Christians and the community we had with each other.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard those words spoken to me. When I first discussed the idea of moving away from Edinburgh earlier this year, my friend talked about how much easier it would be for me to establish community no matter where I might move to. In my final year of university my peers commented on the family I had around me – it was most noticeable to them when I caught mumps near the end of our first semester and they saw love in action as my friends took care of me, encouraged me when I was fighting through coursework despite my hamster-like features and hideous fatigue.

I’ve seen Christians getting annoyed about the proclamation of this ‘suspect’ in Norway being a ‘fundamentalist Christian’. I can understand that. Certainly it makes me think again of how many of my muslim friends have told me they feel when they hear about ‘Islamic fundamentalists’. Perhaps that’s why I get annoyed when people label me as ‘religious’. Because I do think that insitutionalised religion has done a lot of damage to our world.

I just don’t think God has.

One person can do an awful lot of damage . Can have a great deal of negative influence on other people.

But one person can do an awful lot of good. And can have a great deal of positive influence on other people.

I hope that I can be the latter rather than the former. I hope that you, my lovely readers, can be the latter too.

There will probably always be the people who use God’s name in vain for actions that He would never endorse. I’m sure you can think of examples you’ve seen on the news, heard of on twitter and read about in newspapers and magazines. They may misrepresent Christ, but they can’t change who God is.

Sometimes I misrepresent the God I believe in too. I’m sorry for that. But that doesn’t stop me from having the ability to love.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

- Romans 12:21

Wise words from the apostle Paul, that I remembered so many times while re-reading some of the Harry Potter series before I saw the last film on Tuesday.

Love is so much more powerful that evil. But it can sometimes take great courage to keep fighting evil with love.

And to my brothers and sisters in Norway (for we all human beings) – I am thinking of you as you grieve and mourn over the coming days. I truly believe that you will rebuild, you will restore and that the lives lost will never be forgotten.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

 

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5 thoughts on “They will know us by our love

  1. “I do think that insitutionalised religion has done a lot of damage to our world. I just don’t think God has.”

    Very interesting perspective. In light of events like Norway and others, it’s important to remember that people can always be poor representatives of what they claim to believe in ways big and small. A newsworthy minority doesn’t represent the majority, whether it’s related to Christians, Muslims, or anyone else.

    As Christians, we are called to love one another, to “overcome evil with good”… even when that evil comes from someone claiming to be one of us. So with prayer and with action, we should swoop in to love on Norway and show that while what that man did was evil, God is still good.

  2. A friend of mine (whom you may know from Asbo) has been posting on this also. He shares some very wise and helpful things, including a beautiful liturgy: http://changingworship.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/an-oslo-lament/#comment-2172

    The thing that particularly stood out for me in what you have said is your quote from Paul’s letter. It rings very true to me. Norway has suffered a terrible tragedy. An evil thing has happened to them. How can we offer them goodness to help them overcome this evil with?

    (ps, loving the colourfulness of the new header – its beautiful =] )

  3. Thank you very much for those thoughts. I’m still trying to process the whole thing and your words have been very helpful.

    The words of Paul stuck home when Linus mentioned them to me. It mirrors the attitude of the prime minister of Norway:

    “We will stand by our democracy. The answer to violence is more democracy, more humanity.” — Jens Stoltenberg

  4. Thanks for all your positive comments & feedback folks.

    Robb – I thought you had a lot of wisdom to bring in your post also.

    Linus – I saw this theme had been introduced to wordpress, I was intrigued by the name of it, as it shares the name of a place in Greece I have fantastic memories of. I love the colourfulness too!

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