The Power Of An Extremist

One person can destroy what many have labored to build.
Good news is scarce in regions of the troubled Middle East. Pakistan is one example, having floundered for the past several months under military rule. Hope was rekindled when President Pervez Musharraf announced that democratic elections would be held in early January. The people would be given the freedom to choose their own leader, if these plans indeed were carried out. It was a rare moment of good news in a nation torn by strife.
One person wrecked the process on Thursday when he aimed his gun at opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Two bullets fired as she waved to a crowd of her supporters were likely enough to kill her. Leaving nothing to chance, however, the assassin then detonated explosives attached to his body. Twenty others were killed in the blast.
The incident was tragic in terms of the lives claimed. But the effects of this violence will reach far beyond even the nine others killed in the rioting that followed Bhutto’s death. The elections are now in jeopardy, and diplomatic efforts for the last several years have been derailed. One political scientist was quoted as saying, “It shows extremists are powerful enough to disrupt the democratic process” (MSNBC News, 12/28/07).
“Peace” is a word that appears 370 times in the Bible (NKJV). That peace is one of God’s ultimate goals can be seen in Isaiah’s depiction of the Messiah as “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Peace was enjoyed on earth when Adam and Eve inhabited Eden. But one extremist wrecked the bliss and brought suffering to all who followed. No wonder Jesus referred to Satan as a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). Peace will never come to those who follow his ways.
But how many do follow Satan’s ways! Questions still swirl regarding the identity and motives of Bhutto’s assassin, but one thing is clear: He was not carrying out an agenda of peace. And such extremists are not confined to the Middle East. They can be found in all parts of the world, exploding the tranquility of many with detonations of their tongues.
Those who carelessly allow their words to disrupt the harmony of God’s people should beware. The wise man identifies those qualities that are an abomination to God, and “one who sows discord among brethren” is on the list (Proverbs 6:19). The standard for those who follow the Prince of Peace is simply this: “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
Laying a foundation for peaceful relationships in a church can take years. One vindictive extremist can bring it all down in a matter of moments. But before we pull the trigger, let us be reminded that we are about to destroy that which God strongly desires. Do I really want to do this?
For news about how Bhutto’s assassination might affect the church in the region, see the report, Bhutto’s Assassination Worries Workers.

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