In recent days, you’ve doubtless seen several articles and videos addressing the Christchurch shooter. Much of the discussion is focused on one thing: “Who do we blame?”
I’ve seen articles from every side of the political and religious spectrum saying the shooter was a rightwing extremist, a leftwing extremist, a Christian, an atheist, a supporter of President Trump, not a supporter of President Trump. The attempts to link this shooter to a political or religious ideology in an attempt to castigate the ideology in order to score political points is exactly what the shooter wanted. Moreover, it is exactly what the demonic forces at work in our world want. Here I am going to discuss the tactics of satan, and how the Church should respond to this act of evil, and others like it.
Divide and Conquer
We do not have to wonder why the shooter did what he did. He told us pretty plainly. His motivations were to drive a wedge between people on the basis of race and politics in order to incite a war. He says so quite plainly in his manifesto:
[I did this to] …”incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders currently occupying European soil…”
“Finally, to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide within the United States. This conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.”https://katana17.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/the-great-replacement-manifesto-of-new-zealand-mosque-shooter-mar-2019/
“This balkanization of the US will not only result in the racial separation of the people within the United States ensuring the future of the White race on the North American continent, but also ensuring the death of the “melting pot” pipe dream.”
The Christchurch terrorist was clever enough to throw enough ammunition in the rest of his manifesto for both sides of the political aisle to effectively destroy one another. He said he both admired and despised President Trump. He said he was both a left-winger when it came to environmentalism and economics and a right-winger when it came to opposition to the media and admiration for conservative pundits. His purpose was to get us to blame ideologies with which we disagree for the actions of one evil person and in so doing, bring greater division.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he mentions forgiveness as being a response to the schemes of the devil.
“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NIV)
The schemes of satan hinge upon bitterness, hostility, and division. He takes advantage of every wrong, every rift, any crack in the foundation of brotherly love and affection in order to steal, kill, and destroy. The enemy does not care which side of the debate you are on as long as he can use you as a tool of division. This is true from the microcosm of interpersonal relationships, all the way to the macrocosm of politics and racial relationships. The devil is the divider and he divides through accusation.
The purpose of the terrorist in New Zealand, as well as satan himself, is to divide and bring hostility and war. It’s time to ask ourselves, are we complicit in this tactic? Has our response to this act of evil been unified with the mission of hell? Have we brought division through responding in rage at the media or pointing fingers at our political enemies? Have our words brought unity and love, or division and anger? These are incredibly important questions we need to be asking ourselves.
How Should We Respond?
Jesus gave us the strategy to combat the tactics of the enemy:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
As children of God, we are to act like our Father. Our Father loves His enemies. He loves His enemies to the point of sacrificing the life of His only Son, Jesus, for the sake of those who actively hate Him. While hanging on the cross, Jesus cried out to God to forgive those who were actively killing Him because they didn’t understand what they were doing.
We are fallen creatures. Our natural response to evil is to take revenge, accuse our enemies, and use a tragedy to our political advantage. Instead, we ought to speak kindly toward those who oppose us politically. We ought to foster an atmosphere of mutual understanding and love. When we see others accusing us, or our political party or ideology for the evil actions of a deceived individual, we should respond with kindness.
Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul, a man who had plenty of opportunity to become bitter:
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.Romans 12:14-21 (NIV)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Let’s not let satan outwit us. Let’s choose to love those with whom we disagree.
For more practical ways to show love, click here.
May you demonstrate the love of Christ in everything you say, and everything you post.