Love and vengeance: That sounds like the title for a bad Hollywood movie. I can already see Keanu Reeves and Liam Neeson, maybe Bruce Willis, sitting for the casting call. Jeffrey Dean Morgan sits across the table and reads his lines in that deep throaty way, "Well I guess you don't really love her, do ya, son." To which Reeves answers, his disheveled locks covering part of his face, sweat running down his scraggly beard, "You didn't get to choose who she loved, so you took her from me!" Reeves raises his voice, "I loved her! I will avenge her!"
But it doesn't work that way.
According to FOX News, a Sri Lankan defense minister claims the recent Easter church and hotel bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 300 Christians and injured another 500 worshipers and passersby was retaliation for prior mosque attacks on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. FOX News editor Bernard Betz quoted the junior defense minister, Mr. Ruqan Wijewardene in announcing the cause of the bombings this past Easter Sunday.
The tiny island country of Sri Lanka sits off the coast of India while New Zealand is an island of its own sitting off the southeast coast of Australia. The two are over 6,700 miles apart. For the defense minister's statement to ring true, the act of vengeance in Sri Lanka would have to have been planned and carried out by a group with international ties and global capabilities. In that way they are not unlike the terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers in New York or the men who coordinated the 7/7 bombings across London.
Despite the fact that both Muslim and Christian traditions clearly call for us to overcome our differences and to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves" (Matt 22:39), it seems the old Arabic proverbs of, "do unto others before they do unto you" and, "If you kill my brother, I'll kill your whole family," are clearly the law of today.
Christian, love and vengeance are mutually exclusive, not inseparably intertwined. The Bible, unlike many other books of faith, calls for us to place others above ourselves.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Phil 2:3-4, NIV)
Although Islam and Christianity are destined to war for eternity, that fact doesn't give us the right to choose war and vengeance over peace and love. Rather, it places more responsibility on our shoulders to choose peace. We are not in the Crusades. Christians are not in the business of doing unto others because or before they do unto us. No, sir. Our commission is to love one another as Jesus loved us, and in case we've already forgotten the Cross, He loved us sinners to death and resurrection. Of course we feel the pain of loss and anger at the senseless bloodshed, but that still doesn't give us the right to seek vengeance. If it did, where would this end? First it's 49 Muslims in New Zealand, then 321 Christians in Sri Lanka. What's next, another 2,100 Muslims followed by tens of thousands of Christians? The escalation of vengeance is a tool of the devil, and the devil is a liar. Just because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocks prayer and faith doesn't make these wrong. In fact, I would argue the radical Left's opinion clearly shows that Satan is threatened by praying Christians.
So, Christian, the truth is really simple. Even in the face of loss and injury to over 800 Christians (a.k.a. Easter Worshipers) in Sri Lanka, our job is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Anything less is un-Christian. Anything less is sin. And the wages of sin is...
– Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.