Manchester Bombing

No. 39 - 28th May 2017

It’s hard to imagine what the families in Manchester are going through as they wake up to face an empty chair at the breakfast table. A partner, or a child who last week was so happy and excited about going to the Ariana Grande concert. And now she’s just a beautiful, heartbreaking memory. What a tragedy. What an awful situation to be in. My mind went to other incidents around the world. The bombings in Paris and Berlin. The devastation of the Coptic Churches in Egypt. The people of Baghdad for whom this sort of action is almost a way of life. It must make God’s heart bleed to see what we’re doing to His world.

The media very quickly picked up on the way the people of Manchester reacted with spontaneous help and encouragement. Handing out bottles of water. Taking food around to the traumatised. Taxi drivers ferrying people home without charge. It just makes me grateful that I belong to a culture that generally tries to sort out its differences without resorting to guns and bombs. I’m thankful for people who can empathise with others rather than indifferently slaughtering men women and children in the name of an ideology. May we never lose that characteristic from our nation.

I was a television cameraman in Belfast when the IRA troubles began, and I know how instinctive it is to become suspicious of everyone identified with the religion or the philosophy of the bombers. But I know equally well that I must guard my own heart. We feel that our anger is justified – and so it is. But I hear the words of Christ ringing in my ears, “You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, ‘Thou shalt not kill. Any person who commits murder will be judged.’ And indeed they will, and we’re delighted that the families in Manchester and around the world will one day see real justice done to the Bombers. But Christ then went on to say that murder is just the letter of the Law. The spirit of the Law goes much deeper than that. “I tell you,” He said, “don’t be angry with anyone. If you are angry with others, you will be judged.” God doesn’t just look at the despicable actions of the Bomber, he looks at the heart, and the anger he sees in the Bomber’s heart is exactly the same anger that He sees in mine. Beware of the anger that destroys the soul.

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