Any and all religions are divided between two types. One shouts; the other listens. One makes war in the name of God; the other makes peace in the name of God. One kills its enemies; the other prays for its enemies.
Both types are found within each of the three Abrahamic religions. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can be interpreted either way. Sections of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament – the Book of Revelation, for instance – lend themselves to interpretations that shout, go off to war, and kill in the name of a warrior God. The same is true of the Qu’ran.
Apocalyptic fear or expectations – end of the world theology – light the fires of fear and hatred.
Richer by Far this morning invites us to pause and ponder the deepest truth about ourselves and others.
“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ – all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us ‘Raca,’ and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.” Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul.
Apocalyptic theology of whatever sort ignores the deepest truth about ourselves. Martin Niemoller, the German churchman who resisted Hitler gives the succinct word to ponder.
“It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.” Martin Niemöller