Try this in your mind. Think about one person you could happily do without. This person could be someone from your own family, your neighborhood, your workplace, your school…it doesn’t matter. This person is a real pain in the a** and bothers you so much that you are certain your world would be better if this person wasn’t in it.
Have you identified your antagonist? Great! Now answer the next question: Does this person share your faith and practice the same religion as you?
If you answered yes, you are in the right place. Please continue reading.
I tried this exercise with my Sunday School Class during a discussion on religion and war. I was trying to show them that, contrary to what we think, people who practice other religions are NOT the problem. To their surprise, nearly all my students discovered that their biggest “enemy” was someone from their own faith.
Regardless of your religion, I can almost guarantee that nearly 70% of you would have discovered the same thing.
The reason there are so many conflicts over religion today is because devil has hoodwinked the world into thinking that all our problems are caused by people of one faith or the other. Depending on your age and the part of the world you live in, you’ve probably nursed the idea that your world would be better off without Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. But the fact – like some of you just discovered – is that most of your problems are neither caused by people from other communities, nor by folk with divergent political views.
According to the Bible, war and strife are caused by the conflict WITHIN the human soul. The primary triggers are PRIDE, GREED and ENVY. The Book of James is explicit about this. It asks: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1,2)
That’s why even in supposedly Christian countries like the United Kingdom, the Protestants and Catholics have been at each other for centuries. In the predominantly Muslim Middle East, Sunnis and Shias are happily blowing each other up. In India, Hindus were fighting caste wars long before the Mughals and Europeans showed up. In predominantly Jewish Israel, the Reform and Orthodox movements continue to confront each other over religious, social, political and ethnic issues.
So, if you think all of the world’s problems would magically disappear if you got rid of all the Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, Hitler had a similar idea about the Jews not so long ago and we all know how that turned out. If you are thinking along those lines too, what does that say about you?
All of us want PEACE. And we want it so badly that we are willing to fight great wars for it. We FIGHT so that we can have PEACE. You see the paradox?
If you really want world peace, first stop the war within.
Great wars begin from little wars, often kindled at home. Great peace also begins at home, often with a smile.