Sunday, September 24, 2006

About Those Indonesian Riots

Back in my atheist days, I couldn't understand what possible justification Christians could offer for engaging in acts of lawless violence and revenge. I was particularly appalled by what some Protestants and Roman Catholics were doing to each other in Northern Ireland. Now a Christian for thirty years, I understand such violence and lawlessness on the part of "Christians" even less than I did.

Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven, a bumper sticker summary of the Christian's life tells us. And it's true. Christians sin every day. But to make the decision to riot or murder is to unrepentantly flout the forgiveness of God and to chase Him out of our lives.

Whether they feel oppressed by the Muslim majority or not, those Indonesians who claim to be Christians in order to justify their recent rioting are way out of bounds. Their actions are incompatible with the ethic of loving God and loving neighbor to which Jesus calls us.

Many Muslim leaders have been at pains to explain since September 11, 2001, that theirs is not a religion of violence. But the activities of various terror groups acting in Islam's name make it hard for much of the world to accept that.

The credibility of the Christian proclamation is also undermined when "Christians" embrace violence. Jesus' command to love God and love neighbor is hardly served by rioting.

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