It seems to me that the worst behaviors we have seen from human beings have come from a place of looking for the demonic and evil “out there somewhere else” instead of in our own hearts.
For my first example, I ran across this website about a month ago:
I saw that, in addition to a hatred for Islam and all other religions than his particular breed of intolerant Christianity, Mr. Chick also sees the influence of the Satanic in the Catholic Church. He even writes that the Catholic Bible has errors in it inspired by the Devil who placed clever forgeries in Alexandria to mislead the faithful.
In Chick’s view, both Catholics and anyone using a modern translation of the Bible is deceived by Beelzebub and is reading the words of Satan inserted into their New Testament.
For my second story, a online friend of mine and former Evangelical missionary describes an incident displaying a combination of arrogance and stupidity that shows perfectly the dynamic I am describing:
"I can recall an incident in Agadir, Morocco. A very charismatic preacher was holding a gigantic tent revival and a call for Muslims to come to Christ. Each night the tent was filled to capacity with an overflowing,enthusiastic crowd. It was quite an exciting event. On the next to the last night of the revival he asked all of the crowd to return on the last night and to bring their Qur’ans with them. The next night several hundred if not over 1,000 arrived with their Qur’ans. He asked them to stack them in a pile. They did so, he then poured kerosene over them and lit the pile the revival quickly ended as a near riot. He then discovered that what he had burned was a stack of bibles, he had been unaware that in the Darija Arabic the word Qur’an is used for any religious book. He was also unaware that Agadir is a city with a very large Arabic speaking Christian population. His entire revival was composed of Christians and not Muslims as he thought.
This gave me a very dramatic lesson in the importance of fully understanding the people you preach to. "
For my third example, I will use the episode of the most evil collective act in the history of this planet. It was the attempt by the deranged leader of Germany to annihilate - in toto - the people of God’s covenant with Israel from the face of the earth, along with others deemed evil, sick or defective. He was convinced that Jews were the source of every form of evil on the planet, thanks to generations of vile prejudice and bigotry and slander against them.
In all three of these examples, and many, many more we could all easily name, looking for the demonic or evil in other people and their beliefs instead of facing the darkness in our own selves caused human beings to act as agents of ignorance and hatred.
It seems to me that Jesus asked us to do things differently. In the parable of the good Samaritan, He showed us that it was the person who acts neighborly who is the true member of the fold - not the one with shared tribal identity and religion.
In the parable of the speck and the log, Jesus asks us to look for evil and blindness in ourselves instead of looking “out there” at the flaws of others.
I will relate an example from my own life. About a week ago, I read a forum post and became indignant - a person I knew well was telling me my ideas were in error and, mortally offended I started writing a scathing reply.
Just before I clicked the “post” button on my little diatribe, I reread their message and saw three little letters.
n o t
I had simply overlooked them in reading the post, and they changed the entire meaning. He had been agreeing with me, not attacking me!
I had been about to use the sword of my words to smite someone who was entirely innocent, and would have made myself into an ignorant and hotheaded object of blame. For whatever reason, God had mercy on me and stopped me, that time, from making a fool of myself.
I think as human beings, both history and the teachings of Christ Himself give us good reason to pause, and pause again before we raise up the banners of attack on those other people who we just know are wrong, wrong, wrong, or worse yet - under the influence of evil or satanic influence.