By Belinda F. Espiritu, New Age Islam
14 May, 2015
Humans are capable of committing evil of varying magnitudes. The news are replete with imageries of crimes, violence, human rights violations, wars, and conflicts between people and nations. Images of ISIS beheading their civilian captives; ethnic wars which led to genocide in Africa and Eastern Europe; America’s preemptive war against Iraq which killed thousands of civilians; and tortures of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are some contemporary examples of the evils that humans are capable of doing to their fellow human beings. Then there is the contemporary struggle of mainstream moderate Muslims against Islamic militant groups such as the Taliban (which recently claimed responsibility for the downing of a helicopter carrying Filipino and Norwegian ambassadors to Pakistan), Boko Haram, Islamic Brotherhood, and Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, Philippines.
Crimes are the glaring examples of how some human beings can deprive other human beings of properties, lives, and even honor. People have become victims of plain robbery, robbery with homicide, rape, rape with homicide, kidnapping with homicide, massacres, and genocide. Horrible true-to-life cases have been reported on other peoples’ losing not only their properties but also their lives due to the evil committed by other people. It may not only be properties and lives, but also women’s purity, or their purity with their lives were taken by male perpetrators. In Mexico, university students were kidnapped, killed, and their bodies burned by drug lords’ goons. In Pakistan, the Taliban group attacked a school killing 150 children. In different parts of the world, horrible, repulsive evil has been committed by individuals or groups of individuals.
Zoom in and zoom out to the absolute and infinite holiness of God. God dwells in inaccessible light as He is all-holy, all-compassionate, all-merciful, and all-loving. His infinite generosity is manifested by the fact that He gives to both the just and the unjust and provides generously to all His creatures. Christians believe He even sent His only begotten Son to redeem humanity from their sinful state because He loved His human creatures so much. This God has a heart full of tenderness and everlasting love for His human creatures.
A God all-holy, all-tender, all-loving, all-knowing, all-mighty, all-generous, all-merciful, all-gentle, all-faithful looks at us all, sees us all, and knows each one by name. He sees and knows everything; nothing is hid from him. His sees both the good and evil done in public and in secret. How would an all-holy God feel when He sees all the evil that has been or is being committed by His human creatures? He once cleansed the earth of wicked men and women through the Great Flood, but He promised Noah and his children that He would not again destroy humankind and painted the rainbow as a sign of this promise.
The heart of God is like the heart of a very loving Father. He sees that His children has been committing a lot of horrible, repulsive, ugly evil, but He waits, urges consciences to repent, and longs for His prodigal children to come back to Him. The story told by Jesus reveals the Father-heart of God, and it is one of the stories that can really touch hearts. There was the story of a young man, the son of a rich father, who asked for his inheritance so that he can enjoy it and travel to other lands. His father gave the inheritance, though he was still living, and the son spent all the inheritance in every conceivable pleasure in the world till all the money was spent and he had nothing left to spend. So, he applied to a rich man to make him his pigs’ caretaker, and just when he was envying the pigs that they had much to eat and he had almost nothing to eat, he remembered to go back to his father to become one of his servants for his father’s servants were well fed. So he went back to his father, in rags, dirty, repentant. His father saw him from afar, knew that his son was coming back to him, and told his servants to prepare a feast for his return. The best part of the story is that he ran to meet his son, kissed him, embraced him, and let his face fall on his neck for joy. His son has come back to him!
This is the kind of God we have. He is a very loving Father who is waiting for us to come to Him so He can dote on us. He loved us first and is waiting for us to love Him in return. He is our doting Father who takes great delight in us. Zephaniah 3:20 says: “He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing”.
May all His wayward children come back to Him with repentant hearts to love Him and be with Him, and may all of us remember at all times that God is our loving Father. His ways are beyond are ways; his thoughts beyond our thoughts. He may allow us to experience sufferings for greater purposes, but His love is unfailing because He is our tender-hearted, all-holy, all-loving Father. And may all of us take on the holy character of God so that we may be fit to be called His children in this life and in the next. Amen. So be it.
Dr. Belinda F. Espiritu is an associate professor of communication and is currently the Coordinator of the Mass Communication Program of the University of the Philippines Cebu. She has done research on Christian-Muslim relations in Manila, Philippines and is interested in the study of communication, religion, spirituality, development studies, peace studies, and democratic participation using new media.