Belfast Telegraph

Jesus not Catholic or Protestant

By David Smyth

An image has emerged of a masked loyalist gang posing by the graffiti message 'Taigs will be crucified'. Back in 2002, a Catholic was crucified and, while it was disputed whether this was because of his religion or anti-social behaviour, these actions and this new threat are absolutely deplorable.

Glorification of violence and death threats are not monopolised by any single community here.

Many sectarian attacks over the years resulted in people being maimed or killed simply because of their perceived religion.

Some of these acts involved sadistic torture, yet something shocking remains in nailing human flesh to wood.

The Roman executioner's legacy lives on.

But so, too, does the faith which, through crucifixion and resurrection, offers hope to the world. You only need to glance across Belfast's skyline to see the symbol of the cross redeemed.

At the heart of the crucifixion lies this paradox. Healing from wounds. Light from darkness. Forgiveness from sin. And ultimately life from death.

At the heart of the crucifixion is a dynamic movement of God to humanity and Heaven to Earth. At the heart of the crucifixion is Jesus. The king who subverted the empire's death-device into the birth of a new kingdom.

In this kingdom, Christians are called to take up their own cross and follow Jesus. Crucified to self, alive to Christ. But living out this redemptive God-story leads us to some difficult places.

So, like Jesus, when some call for our crucifixion, we pray for their forgiveness. This is not easy and it does not mean ignoring injustice, or excusing threats like these - quite the opposite.

We actively overthrow violence with peace, expose lies with truth and confront hatred with love.

So, practically, today we call for these hateful words to be removed. We pray for heart-change in those who painted the words and for comfort for those intimidated by them.

We proclaim boldly that Jesus is not a Protestant nor a Catholic, loyalist nor republican. He is Lord of all. We dare to subvert this death-threat of crucifixion to an invitation to everyone to come to life in Jesus.

  • David Smyth is head of public policy and advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph


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