The mass shooting at the two mosques in Christchurch NZ on Friday, where 49 worhipers were killed, and dozens others were injured, is the latest tragedy to make headlines. I wish I could say it’s unbelievable.
As I thought about the shootings, the more I was reminded of the scene between Aragorn and King Theoden in Helm’s Deep, from Tolkien’s “The Two Towers”.
“So much death – what can men do against such reckless hate?”
The answer isn’t found merely in policies and parliaments, because the source of hate isn’t due to a lack of laws, or legal loopholes. Natural solutions are insufficient against supernatural problems, and while they’re necessary to maintain order, provide structure, and mete justice, they don’t address the heart of the problem. Hate springs from the heart of men, and no law can prevent its rising. Politicizing tragedy perpetuates the hate, and in short order, the motives and intentions of those pointing fingers becomes the issue, rather than the issue itself.
The best response to reckless hate is reckless love. It sounds insensible and nonsensical to the world, and to be honest, it sounds that way to most Christians too. But we know as Christians, by the example of Jesus’ life and death, that is the only response. Our real enemies are not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities, the spirit of the world, the enemy of mankind. When we instead battle against our fellow man, we reignite the fire of hatred that Christ’s love, as shown on the cross, has already extinguished.
Evil’s power lies in its ability to make us despair and feel hopeless. It endlessly batters against our hearts, minds, and souls, tempting us to believe all is lost. It convinces us we’ll be safer if we sacrifice more freedom, eliminate the Other – the “bad people” – or compromise priniciples. We feel helpless in the face of these tragedies: “There are so many problems, how can we possibly solve them all??” some ask. “What can Man do?” The truth? God doesn’t expect you or me to solve all the problems. He expects us to love with a reckless love. That’s what Christians are expected to do. Today, tomorrow, every day.
“Ride out and meet them.”
Aragorn suggests to King Theoden to meet the enemy head on, to battle with blade, and beat back the onslaught, and not cower in fear. Christ commands us to meet the enemy head on as well, but not with weapons. Or tweets, memes, and carefully crafted statements. We are called to love our neighbor and our enemy – sometimes they are the same person – and we can only do that by going out to meet them. Which can be a messy business. Following Christ ought to make us courageous, not cowardly. He has defeated death. He has told us to not be afraid.
“For death and glory?” “For your people.”
Loving our neighbor isn’t for our own glory. It’s for God’s. If our glory is the objective, then what we’re doing isn’t love. We go out to meet them, becoming a witness of the power of Christ’s love. We do it for the people – His people – one person at a time.
“The sun is rising.”
The Son has risen. Accuse of me of reading more into Gimli’s line, I don’t care. Jesus is our strength in our daily struggle against evil, because He has already won the battle. First and foremost, we must battle the evil within our own hearts. We start there, and then by loving our neighbor, God’s grace can work on their hearts, and love then spreads. God loved us first, while we were still sinners. We hold no claim to refuse to love others for that which God deigned to do for us while still imperfect.
“Let this be the hour when we draw swords together.”
Let this be the hour when we go out and meet them. Let this be the hour when we fight with reckless love. Let this be the hour we inconvenience ourselves with intentional acts of kindness. There will be future tragedies – none of us are so naive as to believe otherwise. No one is guaranteed safety. No one is spared from the effects of others’ exercise of free will. But may it never be said no one ever witnessed the love of God in us, because we failed to show the love we profess to possess.
Let us be the ones to show what can be done against such reckless hate.
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Image source: Abdullah@xtra.co.nz via Wikimedia [CC0]