The violence we should use in religion is the violence of commitment: Using every means you have as a creative being to bring yourself closer to God…I believe that everybody on earth was created in God’s image. We are all related in being created. So I, as a created [being] have to respect other created things. That’s what I mean when I say putting God at the center. He created us this way. We have to learn to live together.
Such were the words of an Orthodox Christian nun of the St. Mary Magdalene monastery located at the Mount of Olives who Bruce Feiler spoke to as part of the stirring conclusion of his book Where God Was Born. This nun exemplified the passionate position that the God of Christianity is a God of Love, not hate. Therefore, when I need to send my friend Liz a link to Rob Bell’s Bullhorn Nooma video, to provide her with some relief and hope after she stumbled across this, I am convinced more and more of the need for the gospel to truly be the Gospel- the Good News of a loving, compassionate God. If we as Christians remain quiet while our misguided fellow brothers and sisters in Christ preach a message of hate and exclusion, instead of the redeeming message of love and inclusion spoken from the lips of Jesus, then where exactly do we stand? Book Burning? Is this what we want to be reduced to? Or shall we be lights in the darkness, bringing peace and love to those we meet, regardless of race, sexuality, creed, etc.?
Feiler writes that “religion can only be saved by religion,” that the “only force strong enough to take on religious extremism is religious moderation.” I believe he speaks the truth in this regard. Do we want to be content to shout from the mountaintops our “rightness” or feed the poor and hungry at the foothills? No matter what translation of the Bible you read, care for the poor, the widow, and orphan is pretty self explanatory.
For too long we have allowed the message of Christ to be used as a weapon, not as a unifying force for good.