The first time I heard that the Jews, Christians and Muslims all share the same, foundational Holy Writ (the Torah, the 5 books of Moses in the Old Testament, and the Tawrat/Quran), was…I’m so ashamed to say…when I was in my 40s. [How is that possible, coming from a preacher’s home?!]
Assuming Google is correct, ca. 33% of the world’s population are Christian (1 out of 3 people); 25% are Muslim (1 out of 4 people); and 0.2% are Jewish (1 out of 514 people). Quick math: ca. 58% of the world’s population share the same Holy Scripture.
The impact of this starts hitting home when you consider that most of the world apparently grew up with The Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not kill, for starters.
For those of us who are Christian, Jesus came early on the scene with his Sermon on the Mount, calling the peacemakers “blessed” and saying that those who are angry are as bad as those who kill. He said, in essence, that the letter of the law has a spirit: the law is fulfilled when we are peacemakers, not just when we don’t kill.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Astrid and I visited Antwerp’s Jewish neighborhood over the Thanksgiving weekend and found ourselves surrounded by Orthodox Jews leaving their synagogues on their Sabbath. Wars and rumors of war between Israel and Palestine and potentially Iran, to say nothing of the entire Middle East, are rumbling in the brain’s recesses. Just more of the same ol’ same ol’ on the CNN Int'l news I watch here in the Netherlands. Including now what just happened in Newtown, CT, closer to home.
Now, jump to this.
Remember when Jesus also said to love your neighbor as yourself…and how many of us grew up emphasizing the neighbor part but not the yourself part?! How can you possibly love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself first, right?! Yada yada yada. [And when did we learn that in church?]
But. If you don’t love yourself, how can you be a peacemaker? If you aren’t a peacemaker, how can you have joy? If you don’t love yourself how can you have joy! If you’re angry, how can you love yourself and make peace and have joy? And that’s not even 6 degrees of separation!
I often say “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” How about also “Let there be love on earth and let it begin with me loving myself.”
And how about “Let there be JOY TO THE WORLD and let it begin with me in my own heart!”
Evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out.
The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena
but the small clearing of each heart.
--Yann Martel, Life of Pi
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