The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
While we knew that Muslim Extremism was a relevant topic for our bi-annual breakfast seminar, never did we expect this seminar to be so timely, as the Parisian attacks happened on the eve of this seminar.
On the 15th November, we invited Prof. Christine Schirrmacher to our bi-annual ILE breakfast seminar on Muslim Extremism, is there an end coming? While we knew that it was a relevant topic, never did we expect this seminar to be so timely, as the Parisian attacks happened on the eve of this seminar.
During this seminar, Prof. Schirrmacher first approached seminar from a sociological point of view, showing the different social pressures that led to the Arab spring as well as the ongoing unrest.
She continued discussing the different power players at war, gave an introduction to the IS and provided suggestions to the current crisis. Some reasons included: a) Despotism? b) Dysfunctional “state” structures c) Sunni-Shi‘i conflict as well as the Politicisation of Islam.
A week later, Brussels was on the highest terror alert since the second World War. It was a few interesting days in Brussels. As a resident of Brussels, I spent more time than I should following as much news as I can as I hear the frequent police sirens and see fully armed army personnel. On one brave day when I ventured a walk out in my neighborhood to go to church, I found road blocks with police cars and tank-like cars on my way back giving me the scare.
I have been wondering what hope might look like in a season like this. Last Sunday, we lit the candle of hope in the advent calendar; pondering about the virtue of hope in Jesus. Below, I suggest two ways about what hope might mean for us.
PEOPLE OF HOPE ARE OPEN
In suggesting what we can do regarding Muslim Extremism, Professor Schirrmacher suggested that we be ‘bridgebuilders’. Instead of building walls of fear, to actively work with vulnerable neighborhoods in our areas to open dialogue and engagement. This can include working with the Muslim community, engaging with key stakeholders. It is only in the spirit of openness can there be true understanding and possible change.
PEOPLE OF HOPE ARE INFORMED
This crisis in the Middle East does not seem to have a foreseeable end. However, this is no reason to despair. As Christians, our reality is intricately linked to Jesus. In his life, death, resurrection and future consummation. It is in understanding Jesus, as well as our current reality that we can truly act.
We live in challenging times of reality. But this does not mean that we should not engage. Instead it is an opportunity to live the reality of Christ in our lives. Living in the ‘here and not yet’, we do not shy away from this world’s brokenness. We actively seek to understand the situation at hand. At the same time, we also continue to engage prophetically.
Jesus did not just die for our sins. He also rose. In defeating death, he has promised life and new creation for all things. It is in this promise that we have the confidence to act, to bear witness to the coming Kingdom of God, where all things are made new. May you have a good season of advent as you ponder about the mysterious ways of our Lord in the reality that you are in.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2nd Corinthians 4:8-9)
Peirong Lin is Research Assistant at the Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven, Belgium and the Coordinator for the Institute of Leadership and Ethics.
For more information about this Breakfast Seminar, please refer here.
This blog is part of a blog series on Leadership & Social Ethics, published by the Institute of Leadership and Ethics. For more information, please visit their website.