Religion is dangerous! Simply look at all the war and conflict that the churches and temples have lead to in history. Indeed not only in history, but in our postmodern world, the argument is often made today that religion makes more conflict than it brings benefit.
Yet if we honestly dig to the core of the issue we need to admit that religion is not the only breeder of terrible conflict among people. There are many reasons why intense conflict exists, all of those reasons falling under the common denominator of people responding to a collision of different beliefs. If we honestly think about the issue of conflict, we can start to see that it is not a specifically religious thing, as much as it is a human thing.
No one religion, or any area of culture and civilization, is free of conflict. We have a natural human response to those who disagree with us, or who go against us, and this response can be seen anywhere. We are often willing to rage ‘holy war’ on any issue that we feel strongly about. Religion seems to provide one of the more extreme contexts for how far people are willing to go for the things that they believe. But all in all, conflict is much more a sign of faulty people rather than faulty systems or ideas.
Apparently those faulty people are at times found in the churches as well. Surprise.
Nevertheless, in stark contrast to the ‘holy wars’ that fills the world Jesus brings a message of grace which exposes the vanity of human conflict and points us to the real issue.
The gospel of grace starts with the admission that we are deeply flawed and unable to make amends with the One to whom we must answer. The gospel of grace presents a God who, in his sovereign love and mercy, reaches out to us before we are able to reach out to him. It presents a God who works powerfully through the message of His Son to convince, convict and rebuild our hearts and minds despite our inconsistency and immaturity.
The gospel of grace never leads people to holy war because it is centered on the reality that God alone can change a hardened heart. Those who have been changed by this message fight against conflict by learning to bring the life of Christ to the people who need it most. They don’t allow themselves to get sucked into the foolishness of human fights.
If you are a person who claims to have come to know Christ’s message, it is impossible for you to not communicate this message in the way you live in the war zones of life. Have you come to know him? Have you discovered the power of his story in this conflict ridden world? If so, I want to encourage you to stand firm in it. Shine the light of grace to those who most need it, and who least expect it.