Thoughts from my journey with JESUS.
Genocide is “the murder of large numbers of people belonging to a particular race”. ”A group of people who are similar because they have the same skin colour or other physical features, or because they speak the same language or have the same history or customs”. Sadly there are current reports of targeted killings in both the Republics of Sudan and South Sudan.
“ETHNIC CONFLICT & WAR. Within South Sudan, inter-communal violence continues to be widespread due to a range of issues including highly-ethnicised politics, the ready availability of weapons, the proliferation of armed groups, corruption, and competition for limited economic opportunities.
ON THE BRINK OF GENOCIDE. Since the renewed violence in July 2016, there has been an alarming increase in hate speech and inciteful rhetoric, which seems to pit the majority Dinka ethnic group against non-Dinka tribes. When combined with the proliferation of ethnic militia and increased ease of troop movements during the dry season, international policymakers fear there could be more deadly clashes in the coming months. In November 2016, the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, warned of the risk of “all out ethnic war” with the potential to escalate into genocide”.
So, How should Christians react to genocide?
1. Christianly control your own reactions
I suggest we must first realise we cannot control genocide – but we can (and must) positively control our reactions to it, making sure we are Christian in all we think and everything we do.
Following recent terror attacks in my country, England, lots of people have demonstrated on the streets carrying banners reading: “Not in my name”. Muslims have joined in with everybody else. They want to distance themselves from the terror that has happened. They are saying: “Others may have done these awful things in the name of my religion, but they are not representing me”. Peaceful demonstration by large groups of people together is one way of telling the perpetrators of genocide, Government or any other groups, that they do not represent all the people they imagine they do. Think on:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus”, Acts 4:13.
“But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard’”, Acts 4:19-20.
Ask God to help you be brave and beautiful in taking your stand. Prepare properly. Take time. You only start once, so start well.
2. Examine your own hearts.
What we think governs how we behave. As Christians we try to show our love for God by the way we live. This must include actively loving everybody God has created in His own image. This is easy with ‘good’ people, but can be very, very hard with those seen as ‘bad’. When you stand alone before God and He asks you, “Did you ever seriously pray for your persecutors?” what will your honest answer be? Avoiding someone is not the same as loving them, is it? Your meeting ‘other’ people one on one, sharing together about painful issues both listening (learning) and talking, may be the start of a massive people movement promoting unity in diversity in your state and country. We ‘little people’ may be able, one step at a time, to achieve what those ‘big people’ are not able to. Especially so if God is pleased with what we are doing. Think on:
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them”,
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”, Matthew 22:37-40.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move
along the ground. So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them”, Genesis 1:26-27.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”, Matthew 5:43-45.
3. Looking at our Lord Jesus’ example and teaching.
Many have felt Jesus taught strong pacifism when here on earth. He certainly did not defend Himself when it was God’s time for the crucifixion. God the Son took the false accusations, the rejection, the brutality and the personal execution. He trusted God the Father was working through it all the salvation of everyone who would repent of personal sin and commit to Jesus as the only sufficient Saviour from its penalty. Even the leaders of genocide are eligible for salvation on Jesus’ terms! Yes they are!! Think on:
“But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you”, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”, Luke 6:27-31 and 37.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life”,
1 Timothy 1:15-16.
I don’t recall anyone ever saying that living as a Christian would be easy. The genuine Christians must stand out from other half-hearted church-goers.
4. At the end of every conflict there is a time for:
the careful, prayerful understanding of opposing points of view
a time for Holy Spirit-led forgiveness, leading to reconciliation, while still respecting and caring for the raw grief of those who have paid a high price
a consensually developed and agreed, political and economic programme which will:
carefully spread responsibilities for resources and work plus
fairly share the rewards from it
over a scheduled time.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation: the old has gone, the new is here”, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive you your sins”, Matthew 6:12-15.
“ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth:it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure for ever’”, Isaiah 55:8-13.
Jesus said, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”, 2 Corinthians 9:10-11.
Again Jesus said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right”. So they went”.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us’, they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard’”.
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first’”.
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour’, they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day’”.
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’”
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last”, Matthew 20:1-16.
The significance of Lord Jesus’ cross must be evident in our salvation and in our service.
The cross is both a provision made by Him for us, and a price asked by Him from us.
Will you join me regularly in this prayer?
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”, Galatians 6:14.
Originally written as BiMonthly Encouragement, 1st July 2017.
1. What is the significance and importance of ‘controlling our own reactions’ to horrifying events? See Acts 4:13.
2. Is it possible to genuinely love God wholeheartedly while not loving every neighbour? Why? Why not? Consider all the Bible passages in point 2 above.
3. How may real Christian love show itself within and around today’s conflicts? Think about Jesus’ “dos and do nots” in Luke 6:27-31 and 37.
4. Make suggestions for what God’s “higher thoughts” may be, particularly about our actions in and reactions to genocide, Isaiah 55:8.
5. How does Calvary’s cross shed light on this issue?