Here we are, as a species, teetering on the edge of ruin. We’ve flattened Syria with our implements of death. We’re obliterating each other all throughout Africa, the Middle East, in Southeast Asia, and so very many other places. North Koreans are living in a dystopian society that looks akin to something George Orwell dreamt up. Women are oppressed far and wide. So too are folks who identify as LGBTQ. So too are racial and religious minorities. Stock markets are volatile. So too are the world’s currencies. Our answer to violence, continually and overwhelmingly, is more violence. And when that violence doesn’t work, like the warmongers that we are, we try yet more.
Are we not all then just a bunch of damn hypocrites?
I believe we are.
Because, for one, we are all made in God’s image, and God is emphatically nonviolent. Hence, our true Self is emphatically nonviolent. So all this retributive, religious, and state-sponsored, sacrificial sacred violence that humanity engages in comes from a different source, namely, the satan, or, in other words, us. How hypocritical! And yes, that especially includes us Christians, for we should know better, considering our God’s commitment to nonviolence was such that he allowed himself to become stapled to a state and religious-sponsored execution tool. Oh, and he was forgiving those who put him there (Luke 23:34). Oh, and then he came back from the dead to do the same thing (John 20:19–23).
And yet, here we are, Christians looking no different from “the world,” as we like to call “others.”
But I’m not just going to focus on Christianity. Non-Christians seem to understand what God is like even if they don’t have the same language as Christians. No matter what religion we humans concoct, no matter what language we use to describe divinity, our various mystics all come up with the same answer. God is love. God is merciful. God is peaceful. God is light. God is gracious. God is compassionate. God is good. The Muslim mystics say this, the Jewish mystics say this, the Christian mystics say this, the Buddhist mystics say this, and the Hindu mystics say this. And yet, who is responsible for most of the bloodshed? Nations who claim to be Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, that’s who!
That is why we are hypocrites, because in spite of our spiritual leaders all agreeing about these core theological claims, we posture ourselves, broadly speaking, against “them” and opt for an over and above type of theological and sociological “correctness.” And then we prove ourselves right by bombing the shit out of one another, spilling the innocent blood of God’s children, in the very name of God and country of course.
It is the will of Allah!
It is the will of Yahweh!
It is the will of Christ Jesus!
The truth is that it is the will of the satan, the will of the ego, the will of what the Apostle Paul called the “powers and principalities.”
I fear that someday we are going to go too far. Actually, it already has gone too far. But one day, it will really go too far, as in, we may accidently end the whole human project. In Rene Girard’s final book, Battling to the End, he worried about this same thing. He worried that in such a globalized world, the entire thing could ignite with one strike of the match. To stem the tide, we must wake the hell up to this madness, and start listening to our spiritual leaders who are pleading with us to “forgive thine enemies.” For Christ’s sake—and I don’t mean that in a crass way—it’s time for such an ethic.
Pray to God that we start listening. Actually, scratch that, pray to God and then start screaming peace from the rooftops, start taking to the streets to proclaim it, and do it until you cannot do it any longer. And by God, let’s live it out in real time. That is the only way prayer, really, becomes manifested. To quote Pope Francis: “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.” Indeed! Peace and mercy and justice for all can only be had if we actually work in bringing these things about. God is not and has never been a deus ex machina. He doesn’t swoop in and take care of things for us. We have to actually change things. Us. All of us.
So it is time for some soul searching. As a species, made in God’s image, let us reflect on our plight. And then may we activate and unite in the name of peace, forgiveness, justice, mercy, and the greatest of these, love.
Love is what this universe is all about and I’ll be damned before I accept that love loses in the end.
Image via Unsplash.
About Matthew Distefano
Matthew Distefano is the author of All Set Free: How God is Revealed in Jesus and Why That is Really Good News and the newly-released From the Blood of Abel. He is also a Regular Contributor for The Raven ReView and ProgressiveChristianity.org. You can find him on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.