Myanmar violence: You mean Eastern Religions aren’t better?
So now the contemplative, in-touch-with-nature-and-inner-peace and waaay-better-than-Christian Buddhists are in mortal combat with the waaay-better-than-Christian Religion of Peace. At least in Myanmar.
People have fled their homes in droves following the latest clashes in Rakhine state, which was rocked by Buddhist-Muslim violence in June that split communities and left tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya in camps.
More than 150 people have now been killed in the state since June, according to the authorities, who have imposed emergency rule in the face of continued explosive tension in the region.
What’s my point? Simply that the Biblical diagnosis of the human condition is spot on. There is no perfect race, religion, tradition or ideology on the earth. All human beings are capable of individual or collective descent into violence, intolerance, greed, theft and all kinds of other terrible action. I didn’t say “descent into evil” because we’re already there: “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:21-23 ESV).
I was with a men’s Bible study the other night, working through Acts 19 and 20. As Paul speaks with the leaders of the church in Ephesus - at a distance from their city because of riot danger, by the way - he reminds them of the only response to our human condition that is something more than a band aid, the response that is urgent and must be proclaimed at all costs:
...I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21 ESV)
That’s it. As long as our sinful race clings to its illusion of rule over… well… everything, the church’s work is to put out the only hope that spares us the consequence of our self-worship and its ugly manifestations. That is to renounce the false gods (“the world, the flesh and the devil” as past Prayer Books put it) and turn toward the true God on His own terms, which are “written” in blood on the cross of Christ.
Fantasizing about other religions or systems might take the edge off of our dire human condition for a little while. But the Biblical witness, that we are a fallen race that will not get “unfallen” on our own, is the irrefutable testimony of history, current events, or any other evidence you care to summon up. We can dab at a blemish of evil on our face only to have ten more popping out on our backside. We can’t meditate or legislate our way out of that.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains… I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Mark 13:8; John 16:33 ESV)
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