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There is talk of war

April 25, 2012

Sometimes news articles are so shocking that you don’t even know where to begin.    Recently a horrendous attack on a group of Afghan schoolgirls was such an incident.  You can read about it here.  In short, conservative Islamic radicals opposed to the educating of women poisoned the water at a girl’s school sending 150 of them to the hospital.  It leaves you shaking with rage at how anyone can make themselves believe that poisoning little girls is doing God’s will.  As grace-based as I desire to be I find my first reaction is that whoever did this can go to hell.

As I thought about this for some time, struggling and failing to see this through eyes of grace, another thought hit me.  Here in the US, in the heat of our political climate, one political party is accusing the other of a “war on women.”  It strikes me as incredibly bold to say that such things as making you pay for your own contraceptives and the like constitutes a war.  Those Afghan girls know what a war on women really is like.

But such outrageous overstatements are not the sole province of one political party.  The other side talks about a “war on religious freedom” over, among other things, the same contraceptive issue.  Once again anyone who takes even a cursory glance at the overseas news can see that calling the state of events regarding religious freedom here in the US a war is ridiculous; yet around the country Christians sit free and unthreatened in churches making just such a claim. 

Why do we do this?  Why do we make absurd and hurtful exaggerations on issues we are involved in while all but ignoring the real wars women and/or Christians are facing the world over?  The answer is both easy and uncomfortable.  I look at my own heart and the answer is clear.  I am more concerned about things that affect me.

If I have a bad cold nobody is suffering more and I’m not getting enough sympathy.  If someone disagrees with what I say a little too harshly my feelings get hurt.  When my refrigerator dies in the middle of a tough financial stretch, as it did, I wonder why God let it happen.

One of Osmo Wiio’s (yes that is really his name) laws of communication is that “The importance of a news item is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.”  Events, like the horrible one in Afghanistan, don’t impact us as hard because they are far away.  Even when they are far away the significance depends on how we can personalize it.  Were there a single American volunteer teacher there this story would have been headline news.  In short, we are appallingly self-centered.

And yet God loves us anyway.  I may be able to convince myself that it is understandable that God loves me, as nice as I am, but be amazed that He loves people who poison little girls.  I can look at my political friends and sympathize with their calls of war and be outraged when the other side makes similar calls.  But through it all, God sees each of us as we really are, sees every horrid thought and deed, hears every self-centered complaint and still He loves us.  If you don’t think grace is amazing, think about that for a second.

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