The horrific attack on the offices of Charlie Hedbo in Paris on Tuesday has provoked discussion about satire in culture, free speech, and artistic responsibility. The attack also re-ignited the age-old debate about what it means when people motivated by faith do terrible things.
My Facebook news feed was filled with people of faith encouraging us all to pray for the victims and their families and people outside faith condemning religion as a whole because this terrible act was committed “in the name” of a particular religion.
Amid all the passionate discussions, a few friends reminded us that it is unwise to judge an entire group by the actions of a few. My thoughts kept returning to that statement as more horrors filled the week in Paris, Nigeria, Yemen, and Colorado. The people who committed these acts are not the totality of a particular faith or state; in some cases, they are not even true adherents of the flag in which they wrap themselves.
I found myself wondering again and again: If the world based its understanding of Christianity on what you did last Tuesday, what would it know?
Would it know Christianity to be a faith of love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace? Or would it believe it is a faith which promotes impatience with family, cynicism with colleagues, and intolerance of traffic? Would it be impressed by Christians as a people of selflessness and sacrifice, or appalled by us as selfish and angry? Would it want to know more about Christianity, or be disgusted and turn away?
We have a responsibility to embrace every moment as an opportunity to lead others to the truth of Jesus Christ. We have been commissioned by the Lord Himself to teach all nations about the miracle of His grace. We cannot be broken by hate, fear, and despair. We must stand tall in hope and peace, eager to teach, to lead, and to love.
“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another..” John 13:35