I think I was about 10 years old when this became my favourite carol. It is full of reality and yet hope. Phrases like “Two thousand years of wrong” and “Men at war with man” deeply affected me – and still do. The writer tells it like it is and writes of “life’s crushing load” and “the weary road” and yet speaks about “peace on the whole earth ” and “the love song which they (the angels) bring”.
It’s all about compassion. As I write this, the news media is full of information about the “refugee crisis” or “migrant crisis”. Hot spots are Calais in France, Southern Italy and Libya, Budapest in Hungary, and the island of Cos in Greece and Turkey. Who cannot be moved by the photograph of a young boy’s body, washed up on the beach. Politicians can rationalise and talk about the underlying causes but I sense a change in ordinary people’s attitudes as they feel sympathy, empathy and compassion towards people they see as fellow human beings. Continue reading “Compassion for Refugees”
- How should we respond to the evil that ISIS represents?
- What is our personal response?
- What should be the response from our nation?
- Should we respond to violence with violence?
- Who is setting the agenda: ISIS or the West?
- Is there a case for a ‘holy war’?
I first visited Sri Lanka early in 1988, but have just returned from what must be about my 30th visit. The roots of the poverty relief charity, Kingscare/Karuna Action developed here, and the country has been central to it’s work and vision.
I remember well my first visit. I came with a burden and a dream along with a certain amount of idealism. I knew that God had called me to take some action to relieve poverty which I knew held so many in it’s grip of slavery. I had read every book I could find, both Christian and secular, on the subject of poverty and world problems. I was anxious to find ways that the Church of Jesus Christ could be a blessing to the whole world.
Was Jesus a pacifist? Does he expect his followers to be pacifists? Is it right to defend ourselves, or our loved ones, from violent attack? Is non-violent protest the only way to change the world? Should we use military means to prevent the excesses of violent dictators in the world. These are difficult questions, but if we want to follow Jesus we must take his teaching seriously.
As I look at this world, I am convinced that the only way evil will ever be overcome is by love and forgiveness. Non-violence is proactive and not cowardice. Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, involves bravery and being convinced that in the end, love wins.
Jesus very plainly said that we were not to resist an evil person using force. There are no qualifiers to his statement, no get-out clauses and no exceptions. Continue reading “Jesus: Responding to Violence”
I was asked recently to speak at one of a series of meetings with a general theme of “War and Peace”. This article is an expansion of my notes.
What did Jesus say about war? What did he say about patriotism? Did he encourage his followers to be pacifists? Jesus did not address these issues directly at all, but his teaching does give us some principles which can totally change our attitude to war and our attitude towards our enemies.
We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1 – a terrible and unnecessary conflict involving 30 different countries. It was a war dreamt up by the elite in Britain, Germany, France, Russia and other countries, but a war fought between ordinary people who died in their millions. We must remember those who died, but with a deep shame. We dare not ‘celebrate’ the war or glorify or glamourise it in any way.
I have travelled to many countries and seen poverty wherever I have been. Even in ‘developed’ countries like the United States or the United Kingdom the curse of poverty still blights the human race. Poverty is often unseen and definitely not photogenic. A tourist in Sri Lanka for instance may not see real poverty at all: but look along the river banks and other places and you will see people living a marginal existence.
There is no simple answer to the question, “What causes poverty?” As we think about the causes of poverty we also need to think about the results, the effects and the symptoms of poverty. In many cases the result of poverty is to cause yet more poverty. So in practice it is difficult to distinguish between the causes and the symptoms of poverty. Continue reading “The Causes and Results of Poverty”