Friday, March 21, 2008

Life and Love or Death and Hatred?

I have in my possession The Book of Common Prayer published in 1885 for use by The Church of England. I don’t often open it but today I did. One section is entitled “The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels to be used throughout the Year,” where I found the pages for Good Friday. The passage from the epistles is Hebrews 10:1-25 and from the gospels is John 19:1-37. But what grabbed my attention was one of the three collects:
O Merciful God, who has made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to they flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

What really struck me was the contrast between this prayer for “infidels” and Islam’s view and “solution” for infidels. One seeks restoration for them with God and the other seeks their destruction.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezekiel 18: 23

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is what Good Friday is all about. God loves all those he made and wants everyone to live in union with him forever. Our war cry is not one of death and hatred but one of life and love.

Today Canada, the United States of America and other so-called Christian nations are on the battlefield in Islamic countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of our men and women have died fighting for what our countries believe is right—freedom from oppression of any kind. This belief in and desire for freedom springs from our Christian heritage so that even those who have abandoned the way of Jesus continue to hold onto many of his ways.

Freedom. Life. Love. We honour these because 2000 years ago Jesus chose to die a tortuous death on a wooden pole stuck into the ground. How are we honouring his death and his love for us? Have you accepted the gift of grace and forgiveness that is possible because of his death? Have you chosen to make him Lord of your life and Lover of your soul? Have you committed all your ways—your past, present and future—into his hands to do with as he chooses? Have you allowed him to take your “ignorance, hardness of heart and contempt” of his Word and make him your Shepherd?

Jesus, I have no idea who’s reading this post today or in days to come but I pray for those who haven’t yet accepted your gift of life, love and freedom that they will see the love and passion you have for them and turn to all that you offer. I pray for the one who has, just now, made that decision to accept your gift and follow you. Bring other believers around this person to encourage, mentor and love him/her and fill him/her with your Holy Spirit.

If you are such a person, I would love to hear from you, either by e-mail or in a comment below. May God bless you.


Tomfooleries said...

I agree with you, Debbie, that the wars in the Middle East is a paraphrase of the Crusades in the Middle Ages.

In Go'd sname, let them be; and perhaps, they'd let us be.


Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Thanks for posting, Tom. Actually, I wasn't making any comparison between what's happening now and the crusades. Quite the opposite. I was writing in support of what they are doing and why--our soldiers are there to bring life, love and freedom. Canada has lost over 80 of its sons and daughters in Afghanistan and someone told me (I haven't verified this) that the United States has lost around 3000. These wars are being fought at great cost to us but our governments have determined that it is worth it to end oppression for people other than ourselves. We are there because of our love, not because of hatred. We are there because even though many in our countries have abandoned Jesus Christ, we have not yet totally abandoned the love that he has given us. We are there because we want to see life in these countries, rather than death, hatred and oppression.