Sunday, September 11, 2005

How can people do this to each other?

This is the question posed by a friend of mine from college who is currently witnessing great turmoil and unrest in Iraq where he serves with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

I subsequently reflected on how this question sometimes meets us in places that we do not expect it to show up. For instance, last night, below my apartment window was the most full-blown and loud display of anger and hatred that I have ever heard. Every word that was uttered was dripping with hate. In disbelief, I wondered "How can people do this to each other?"

Sometimes I think that the world is better than that - it takes an event as such to remind me that that the Kingdom of Darkness is a very real entity. I guess that was why I was struck in a particular way by a phrase in the 2nd chapter of John this week. John writes that "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." During those stressful moments last evening of wondering about the fate of these angry people below my window, I thought, "What is it that I am called to do?" Pray?

To the unbelieving, prayer sometimes seems like the sissy way out. But I am compelled to think otherwise. Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion who said, "But say in a word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." The centurion understood that requesting God's Kingdom to come to earth was not a matter for sissies but a matter of power.

And so last night, amidst the swearing and the anger, I was simply prompted to pray for the presence of love. And not too long thereafter, it was quiet.

May God's mercy give us sustenance. And may I remember that I need God's sustaining mercy just as much as the angry man and woman on the street corner, just as much as the Iraqi bureaucrats and just as much as the desperate insurgents.

Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As if it were not there.
--(Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem)