God is great, but you and your methods are not
Reflecting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the hijacking of faith. By David Masters
Righteous indignation is not appropriate, neither is an angry rant. But I want to stand with the millions of people who are people of faith, whether they are moderate Muslims, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Ba-hai, and say to the terrorists that undertook their attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, 'SHUT UP, put down your weapons and become people of faith.'
Those who believe that there is more to existence than this life are called to live their lives differently, to the beat of a different drum - and the beating of that drum is not to a military solution.
We do not want people of violence to take away the statement that God is great (an expression that is used in worship within my own tradition) and corrupt it before a watching world where many millions of are trying to demonstrate the LOVE of God - especially to those who disagree with us.
As some one who does believe that God is great, who leads a growing church and serves in such a way that equips that church to serve their local community even better, I choose love and peace over intolerance and violence.
People do disagree with us, make fun of us, completely ignore us and even take advantage of us on a regular basis - as they have done to people of faith through out the centuries. Yes, it sometimes make me angry, but never violent. Frustrated, but never (I hope - because none of us are perfect) rude. Unhappy, but never hard hearted.
To all who choose the negative way over the positive way, who choose to fight rather than reconcile, don't steal the thing that motivates us, that sets our heart ablaze and encourages us to get our hands dirty.
Many millions of us believe that God is great and when we demonstrate it in small, personal ways people look at us and catch a glimpse of this. When they look at you they only see the corruption of this world and realise that you have nothing to offer them except fear and horror.
Please put your hatred and weapons down and understand that the only way you can truly defeat your enemy is to make them your friend.
The Revd David Masters has been the minister of Central Baptist Church in Southampton for 11 years, where he works in a community which is 95 per cent students and works as a faith advisor with the Chaplaincy of Solent university. He previously served in the pastorate of Grays in Essex and in leadership in Erith in Kent.