2005 Issue 14 icon

thinking points icon

Bomb blasts and us

In the last few weeks, bombs targeted at innocent civilians have been exploded in London and the Egyptian seaside resort town of Sharm-el-Sheikh.  Hundreds were killed, maimed or wounded by shrapnel, or by glass splinters which are invisible to X-ray machines and hence very difficult to find and remove.  The terrorists did not care who was hit: Londoners or tourists, women or children, Christians or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims.  How should we Christians react to such acts of indiscriminate, horrific, violence?

The natural, instinctive, human reaction is one of horror and condemnation, with a silent cry that those who planned and executed the bombings be caught and brought to justice.  But what does the Bible say to guide us through such times?  Theologians are better qualified to make detailed and profound studies on this subject.  I merely wish to share a few Bible verses that may be helpful, and some thoughts which seem relevant.

Violence is no stranger to the Bible, which records many follies and sins of Man through historical accounts, stories, parables and even poems.  The great King David expressed in poetry:

“O righteous God,
who searches minds and hearts,
bring to an end the violence of the wicked,
and make the righteous secure.” [Psalm 7:9]

Is that not our own heart’s silent cry?  For we know that God is our only real defender, our shield against violence and harm.  Truly, we should run to Him for protection, and for an end to the violence of the wicked.

There are two other interesting points in David’s cry to God.  The first has to do with God searching minds and hearts.  Whose minds and hearts?  David lived a long time before Christ came down to become a supreme Sacrifice that takes away the sins of those who believe in him.  For these repentant and cleansed people, “a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe …. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” [Romans 3:21-25].  The important words here are “believe” and “faith”.  So, God searches the minds and hearts of Christians, and we therefore need to take a rain check to see if we truly believe and have true faith in Jesus and the atoning power of his blood.  But does God not look into the minds and hearts of everyone else?  Most assuredly, He does.  And He sees the wickedness and evil there.  God abhors wickedness, and violence.

The second point is that “minds and hearts” reminds us that the battle against the terrorists is not just physical; some believe it is simply a matter of “taking out” the “perpetrators”.  It is not.  It is more a battle for the minds and hearts of the people who sympathize with the small number of terrorists who commit acts of violence.  This is obviously a job for governments and world organizations.  But is there some small way in which we can help stop the violence?  Yes.  We can build bridges of understanding.  We have first to understand the views and the feelings of others.  Only when we have clearly understood can we begin to think of how to pray for these people, and how to tell them in the gentlest way possible about the way of love and peace. 

Perhaps, when we engage people of other races and religions in discussions, we should not be confrontational or “preachy”.  Some are quick to pull out a Bible and quote chapter and verse; this is counter-productive and self-defeating.  Did Jesus pull out a Bible when he talked to people?  When he quoted from Scripture, did he tell where the verses came from?  So why should we?

Terrorists, of whatever race, language, religion or nationality, operate on the doctrine of hate.  The antidote for this is the Way of Love that Jesus teaches:  Love God with all your heart, mind and soul; and love your neighbour as yourself.  But even more eye-opening and revolutionary is Jesus’ instructions on a third kind of love:

“Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.” [Luke 6:27, 28]

The way of the terrorists is to hate their enemies, do evil to those who hate them, and curse those who curse them.  If they think about their enemies when they pray, it is probably to call for bad things to happen to them.  Those who are perceived as mistreating them or their people, or who commit the terrible crime of being friends of their enemies, are to be killed in any way possible.  We saw assassinations and bombings during the Malayan Emergency, and almost weekly bombings during the Confrontation.  As the wise Solomon said in his book “Ecclesiastes”, there is nothing new under the sun.

“Love your enemies”, how hard it is for the terrorists to do this.  But is it hard for us too?  How do we do this?  Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which gives us a practical way to love our enemies.  The Samaritan came across a badly beaten Judean man lying on the road.  Hold it, weren’t the Samaritans and Judeans at religious loggerheads and virtually enemies?  Yet the Samaritan stopped to clean and bind the wounds of the Judean, hoisted him on his donkey, took him to an inn, a place of safety and recuperation, and even paid for his stay there.  This parable was given to us as an example of what we can do today.  If we come upon people who are injured, as in a bomb blast, we are to render first aid, assist the victims in whatever way we can, and at the least, call for an ambulance to transport them to hospital – even if we come across a terrorist, or someone of a different race or religion.  The Way of Love is definitely more difficult than the way of hate.  But ultimately love triumphs over hate.

Jesus showed us the truth of this in ways great and small.  One small way:  he had a disciple called Simon the Zealot; the Zealots were fanatical Jews who sought the overthrow of Roman rule over Israel, by violent means.  They were very much like the Al Qaeda terrorists of today.  Simon was either a Zealot terrorist or he behaved like one.  And yet Jesus won him over to his Way of Love, through love.

“Give to everyone who asks you,” Jesus said in Luke 6:30.  “Everyone” means irrespective of race, language, religion or nationality.  Should we shun a whole race because a few of them are terrorists?  When was the last time you gave freely to someone who was of a different race, language, religion or nationality than yours, someone who needed something, or help, and asked for it?  But how can he ask for it if you were not close to him, or better still, a friend?  “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Jesus taught [Luke 6:31], and that means the first friendly move, the first kindly move, must come from us.

By sharing what we have with people different from us, and doing to them what we would have them do to us, we would be building bridges to them.  We would come to know and understand them better.  As we become friends, it would make us all safer, for it is hard for someone to kill a friend who loves you. 

The easiest thing, and perhaps the hardest thing, is to obey Jesus’ call to pray for our enemies, for they want to do us harm.  They feel that they are in the right and that they are the righteous.  Those who are not with them are of no account and can be blasted from the face of this earth.  Perhaps we may not be able to change them, but God certainly can.  God can make our enemies our friends. Pray.

 Note: BGST received the article on 29 July 2005

NEWS BITS

1.      New BGST Library Hours. 
Monday to Friday :  9 am - 9 pm
Saturday : 9 am - 6 pm
Note : Computers and loan services will end 15 minutes before closing time.

2.      Our heartiest congratulations to Mr & Mrs Lai Pak Wah on the arrival of their 2nd child, Isaiah Zhi Xin Lai on 31 July.

3.      BGST Alumni News. Since our inception in 1989 the number of our graduates has grown steadily, and the time has come to have a gathering of their own. BGST is happy to announce the official launch of BGST Alumni Network with a Hi-Tea Reception on Saturday, 20 August 2005, 2.30-4.30pm at our campus (31 Tanjong Pagar Road). It will be a time to foster closer ties amongst alumni as well as to exchange ideas for building a strong body to support one another and the vision God has given to BGST. Do pray with us that we will have a meaningful and fruitful afternoon.

4.      Please pray for Dr Quek & the Singapore Team (total: 8 persons) from Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church and Biblical Graduate School of Theology as they visit Sekolah Tinggi Theologia Injili Abdi Allah (STTIAA), Jonggol, Bogor and Pacet. The team will be teaching over 15 sessions during STTIAA's Orientation Week from 15 to 20 Aug. Pray for journey mercies and that the group will be a blessing to the new batch of students.

A Blessed  Birthday to…

Mr Koe Hung Tatt  15/8
Ms Ming Feong Ching  15/8
Mr Immanuel Andrew  15/8
Mr Phua Kok Wee  16/8
Mr Stephen Looi  17/8
Pastor Edmund Wong  18/8
Ms Daisy Yeo  19/8
Prof. Koh How Eng  20/8
Dr Chia Hwee Pin  21/8

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This page was updated on 12 Aug 2005. 
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