The wrong way to do it

My wife and I drove through Belfast recently and saw the wall dividing Catholic Falls Road from Protestant Shankill Road.  It was a stark reminder of how not to “win friends and influence people” as writer Dale Carnegie used to say.

Of course, it is easy for me as an outsider to sit in judgement of northern Irish Christians who got into this fix.  I haven’t lived through the provocations on both sides which led to the 30 years’ of violence called “The Troubles”.

But I am certain Christ would not have approved the bombings, shootings and knifings which became a way of life in Belfast.

How could people who follow Christ get to the point of killing and terrorizing each other?

Perhaps it has something to do with forgetting what following Christ really means.

In a small way, I know what it means to feel slighted and hurt by others.  My natural reaction is to lash back.  The desire for revenge must grow exponentially when someone you know is killed.

I’m sure that many people on both sides felt that armed revenge was the only way to even the score.

But there are other ways to respond.

I remember some years ago the son of an Anglican minister in Alberta, Canada was shot and killed by another youth.  I was deeply impressed – and so were many others – when the Anglican minister and his wife publicly forgave the young killer.  In fact, they tried to keep in contact with him and to help him get straightened away.

As a parent, I would have found this very hard to do.  But I can’t think of a more powerful way of influencing people for good.  Guns won’t do it – but love will.

We all know that Christ called on believers to forgive others and to do good for those who hate us.

As the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:15: “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

As a Christian, I need to remember this when I am next tempted to strike out against someone else for a real or imagined hurt.





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