Securing safety through a change of heart

Recent terrorist attacks around the world are particularly poignant reminders of the need to feel safe. Is the answer in an increased police presence, technologically advanced security measures, heightened surveillance of extremist groups? These may be necessary interim measures, but the way to protect ourselves as well as society at large from terrorist and criminal activity, and to reform such behavior, is through a profound change in the way each of us individually thinks about God and our fellowman. Ludicrous? Jesus didn't think so. He urged just such a change of thought, according to the thirteenth chapter of Luke.

Some people told Jesus about a horrific incident of brutality that had happened. Pilate had killed some men from Galilee and mingled their blood with that of the animals to be offered as a sacrifice to God. The theology of that time assumed that catastrophes befell people because they had broken one of God's laws—that suffering was God's penalty. Therefore, many presumed that these Galileans died because they had committed some moral offense. But Jesus denied this. He said: "Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (verses 2, 3).

Continuing, Jesus drew a parallel to another incident that had occurred in Jerusalem. Eighteen people were killed when the tower of Siloam fell over and crushed them. Driving home his lesson, he again raised the same theological issue: "Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (verses 4, 5). Rebuking the crude theological idea that catastrophes are God's means of punishment, Jesus emphatically stated that the men killed by Pilate and the men standing under the tower of Siloam were no better nor worse than most men.

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Living without fear, a sure possibility
September 30, 1996

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