It was a shocking way to end the week last week to hear about the horrible incident in Christchurch, New Zealand. It must have been so scary for the victims to realise that they were defenceless and that their last minutes on earth would be of terror when the gunman came barraging through. I could imagine the fear, the confusion and the puzzlement – seeing the perpetrator who wouldn’t have taken off his shoes when he entered the mosque.
As more details came through, the outpouring of sympathy started to pop all over my Facebook wall from all over my friends. I must admit that my instant reaction was: how come none of my friends expressed sympathy or shared their feelings when a Catholic church got bombed in the Philippines or there was no outpouring of emotions to condemn Christian killings in Nigeria. As a Christian who grew up in Indonesia, it was a regular occurrence to hear about church attacks or harassment against believers in areas that are devoutly Muslim.
I quickly realise that such reaction is not compassionate and not Christ-like. The counter-rebuttal to that reaction would be how come Christians don’t express their concern with the oppression in the Palestine, or the injustice in their own backyard.
Then I realise that my internalised non-reaction is shared by some of my Christian friends. They chose to be quiet, without as much a sympathy post on their usually vocal Facebook posts. Rather than showing compassion, some choose to share other horrors befallen Christians that do not attract as much global attention.
Perhaps this is the modern day version of the Judgment of Solomon – that can be found in 1 Kings 3:16-28. In that particular story, there were two women who were living in the same house. Both of them had a baby. One of the women lost her baby, and exchanged her dead baby with the other woman’s baby, who were alive. The women came to King Solomon and asked for justice. Solomon then asked the baby to be cut in halves – so each mother could have a half. The woman whose baby was dead, accepted this decree as neither woman would get a baby. However, the rightful mother begged Solomon not to kill the baby, and graciously let go of the baby to be with the thieving mother.
You may be puzzled why I can relate this passage to what happened in Christchurch. I can just see the gracious mother offering her love and grace by not being concerned with who won or lost. Yes, as a body, Christians are hurting when we are attacked, killed, and harassed. However, point scoring in the sympathy contest will bring us nowhere. Jesus says in John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”. If non-Christians can show their love and compassion, why can’t Christians?
Our Muslim brothers and sisters are hurting – and if our best reaction is to keep quiet without expressing any love or grace that Jesus commanded us to – aren’t we being disobedient? If towards an evil person we should turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), why can’t we willingly show compassion and love without being concerned as what is fair or just? Wasn’t that what Solomon wanted to teach the two mothers?
As I posted earlier on Facebook, I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters in Christchurch. It does not mean that I am watering down the integrity of my faith. If Christians respond to such tragedy with hatred – or even with apathy – what good are we in being called the salt and light of the earth?