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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

28 January 2015: Rev'd David Rice, Petersfield Methodist Church

Responding to Terror

What makes people of religious faith go killing those who they perceive as hostile? Events in Paris highlight Islam and a handful of its most extreme adherents, but other faiths, religious and secular, do not have clean hands. Past Christian rulers have burned or beheaded people, all to "protect" the name of God, who is known as Love.

Most religions advocate approaching God in humility. We do not deserve, nor are able to earn, the favour of God. We gratefully receive God's interest in us and benevolence towards us. This humility is expressed in worship but also in how we live amongst others, knowing ourselves to be no more or less deserving of God's favour than anyone else. This should inspire kindness and thoughtfulness in our response to others and openness to what they may teach us about the God who has sought them too.

When people see faith through the lens of arrogance and lack appreciation of the value of others to God, something other than faith has taken hold of their lives. This may be fear, anger, a sense of injustice - the list is endless - which give a context for believing which is skewed, to do with personal griefs more than eternal truths. Religion seeks to heal these things, giving a different context, seeing in new ways, seeking to put right the wrongs of the world.

Hard though it is, we must seek a response to atrocity through prayer for those bereaved, through open enquiry into what sparks these skewed understandings and through not being drawn into fear, or anger, or separation from others.

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