Thursday, November 26, 2015

Recent events in Paris

I've chosen to be rather quiet over the recent crises facing the West recently concerning the atrocities of ISIS. This is mainly because I know that I know too little about the politics of the situation and can only do what I know how to do which is to pray, albeit imperfectly, for the situation especially when it comes to discerning the will of God in the matter.

Much of the attention has spilled onto the question of what to do with those people fleeing from ISIS. Should they be allowed asylum in various countries or not? Christians are divided. Some will cite the good Samaritan and say that we need to shelter the homeless in accordance with the seven corporal works of mercy. Others will say that we should not in fear that in allowing some activists posing as refugees will then attack and kill innocent people as in Paris. We have several principles in apparent conflict here, each proceeding from the mouth of Our Lord Himself.
  1. Love thy neighbour as thyself. (St Matthew xxii.39)
  2. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (St Matthew v.44)
  3. Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (St Matthew x.16)
  4. Freely you have received, freely give. (St Matthew x.8)
  5. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (St Mark viii.36)
It is as much one's duty to protect the innocent as it is to love one's enemy and as much again to be charitable and share one's resources with those in need. All of these need to be balanced with wisdom of the world and the Divine desire to harm no-one. We have to remember that our true identity lies not with our nation but is defined by God Himself. It is noble indeed to be patriotic and to stand up for our nation and people in service for the commonwealth, but if that patriotism seeks to overwrite God's statement of our true identity, then it loses that nobility.

Should we fight ISIS? We should fight evil at all times. If the battles of the Old Testament teach us anything worth knowing about warfare it is that we need to ensure that we seek to purify ourselves of Evil in the eyes of God before we begin to tackle Evil elsewhere. Only the soldier who is first at war with the evil within himself and humbly drawing upon the strength of God to fight that internal evil can have any part to play in the conflict around him. We cannot, in our blindness to evil, just hit out and hope we destroy the enemy: that is how the innocent fall victim.

If ISIS teach us anything, it is that evil lurks within us just as much as it lurks around us even when we believe ourselves to be absolutely certain in the right. We must pray that we see the true evil and not an imagined evil arising from our flawed impressions of events.

I'll leave the decisions arising from the global issues to the politicians and those aware of the deeper ramifications of possible actions. I will also pray that they have the wisdom to act according to the Will of God first.

I pray for ISIS too, that their eyes may be opened to God and His judgments of their actions lest their souls be finally and irretrievably lost. However, first and foremost, I pray for all those victims of ISIS, whoever they may be, that they may receive the healing and know the presence of God to lift them through their suffering to the joys of eternal salvation.

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