Last week (as you undoubtedly know), a series of terrorist type attacks occurred (mostly in and around Europe). In one well-publicized case, a smartly-dressed gunman shot and killed the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. As you may have seen, the entire thing was caught on video, so it was the easiest thing in the world to identify as terrorism (something we seem to be quite reluctant to do these days).
I won’t go into the details (which have been pounded into our skulls by relentless and never-ending newscasts) except to say the ambassador was shot in the back and the assassin shouted, “Allahu Akbar” during the attack. This now familiar phrase, which seems to accompany many acts of inhumanity and cowardice these days, is a dead giveaway to the motives of any such attacker. They are basically blaming their god for their vile actions.
“This Tactic is Nothing New”
This tactic is nothing new, as I’m sure you’re well aware. Adam and Eve got us off to a good start down that pathway. It’s a very familiar theme in life—blaming someone else. People love to blame a god, the devil, their mother, or the fact that they were victims of some evil conspiracy. The list is not limited to these things, of course, but you get the idea.
The interesting thing about these recent attacks is their timing. They seem to be perpetrated by folks who look at Christmas season happenings as prime windows of opportunity. After all, who celebrates Christmas? Infidels do. “Infidels must die, and we must help them” seems to be the watchword around this insanity.
The fact that so much crazy stuff seems to be swirling around what was often termed the “Season of Peace” is mindboggling. The juxtaposition of terrorism, heartbreaking civil wars, and election squabbles up against the Prince of Peace tends to dampen what we used to call the Christmas Spirit. I, for one, still have that Spirit, but showing it seems to get harder and harder. I’m sure it’s come to the point for many where they just want Christmas to be over.
Blame it on God
Because of all this, it has become one of my deeper convictions that we should double our efforts to show that Spirit. Rather than succumb to the depressing fact that we live in somewhat of an inane world, maybe we should fight against it. Our weapon in this battle is the truth of the Gospel and the flow of the Spirit of Christ in our lives. This was once known as “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It still is, but no one seems to understand that these days.
One of the oft-used portions of Scripture during the Advent/Christmas season is John 1:5—“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” If our world seems dark, there remains a light within us that can shine in places that have never seen its brightness.
It’s Christmas. Let your light shine in someone’s darkness (and you can blame THAT on God).
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]