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When All Hell Breaks Loose


The blaming has begun. In the wake of attacks on U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt that left several dead, including an American Ambassador; in the wake of demonstrations at other U.S. embassies in places like Kuwait, Bangladesh, Tehran, Tunisia, and Morocco, the rush to place blame is on. It’s America’s fault… or Al- Qaeda’s. It’s Muslims who started it… or Christians… or Jews. It’s democracy that’s to blame… or Sha’ria Law.

So history repeats itself as hatreds are fueled. And violence escalates. We are, all of us, so susceptible to the notion that if things aren’t as they should be in the world, then it’s someone else’s fault. And when politicians and religious leaders come along, eagerly telling you who to blame for your lot in life, and what you must do to prevent them from ruining it completely, its a recipe for the kind of disaster that we’ve witnessed this week.

Hatred is often considered to be the opposite of love. Yet according to Scripture, the opposite of love is fear. (see John 14:18 ESV). We fear what we don’t know, which breeds prejudice in our hearts. We fear those who are different and those who disagree with us, either because we are insecure or because we want power, or both.

It’s fear which breeds hate, beloved. And hate is just so, well… easy. Why search for the complicated truth when others are telling you how to act and how to feel; who to blame and who to despise? Just jump on the hate train. But understand that it’s headed toward a destination called Bitterness, that will eat your soul.

In our fear, in our rush to place blame, we create enemies. Yet St. Paul reminds us that… “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).

All hell has broken loose this week in the Middle East, and as the finger pointing continues, the Evil One is making pop corn. He’s preparing to enjoy the show as the rhetoric ratchets up. He’s hoping that sharp words will need to be backed up with military might, which will come at the price of diminishing treasure and the precious blood of the young and the innocent. Now I’m neither a pacifist nor a war monger, and I’m certainly not smart enough to suggest a resolution for a problem that is so out-of-hand. I’m simply diagnosing our human condition.

Its enough for today to know that “those people” (whoever they may be) whom we are tempted to blame for all our problems are not the enemy. Not ultimately. And even if they were, Jesus commands us to pray for them. St. Paul identifies the real enemy in Ephesians 6 when he encourages believers to put on the whole armor of God, so that we may stand against the wiles of the devil. So if you’re at a loss for how to respond to this week’s headlines, try that. At least then, you’ll be engaged in the right fight.


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