We open this week’s Pen with a statement from our Social Justice Ministry:
“Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC, joins the faith community leaders and worshipers from across the global community who mourn the loss of life, and cry out in protest against the inflicting of physical and emotional trauma on the persons, families, and communities victimized by the unconscionable, murderous attacks that took place this past Sunday in several locations in Sri Lanka. We pray for those affected and the enduring strength and healing that God alone can bestow. Further, we beseech the world’s geopolitical leaders to recommit the resources of their nations’ governments, civil and cultural organizations to the achievement and sustaining of a justice-driven peace, and lasting security at the local, national and international levels. Shiloh allies itself with the governmental, non-governmental and other civil society organizations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia that seek the community peace and security that can be reached only through commitment to, and action on sustainable social justice.”
On Easter Sunday, one of the most horrific crimes against humanity and against Christ’s church was perpetrated in Sri Lanka. As we did here at Shiloh, Christians across Sri Lanka gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When worshipers thought they were safe to celebrate and praise God, they were met, instead, with bombs that killed nearly 300 people.
It is completely and totally contrary to the message of Jesus that violence of any kind should ever be pursued as a method of dramatizing grievances. Jesus was quite clear that if the Jewish people decided to take up arms against Rome, they would be totally annihilated. Jesus’ prophecy came true in 70 A.D. when the Romans dismantled Jerusalem and carried away the temple blocks one by one. Jesus taught us that nonviolent protest is the best way to bring about change. Although not a Christian, Mohandas Gandhi approved that Jesus’s ethic, when applied to the British occupation at the beginning of the 20th century, could bring down Britain’s rule. It was Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance and bold act of civil disobedience that ended Britain’s iron grip on India.
There are times when many of us feel so aggrieved that we would like to use violence as a method for getting even. It is human to strike back when we are struck. Jesus understood fully that taking such an approach does not lead to justice, but has the opposite effect on the enemy, causing the enemy to dig in and harden its opposition. In this post-Easter season, not only must we pray for victims and their families in Sri Lanka, but we must also recommit ourselves to pursuing peaceful solutions no matter how difficult they may be.