By Rick Lewers

Is this the new normal?

Martin Place
The sea of floral tributes in Martin Place, Sydney for deceased hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson

Following the shocking inner-city Sydney siege by an Islamic State supporter many have lamented our growing sense of insecurity, as well as the diminishing presence of love and peace in our world.

Former Australian Idol winner Wes Carr composed 'I Pray' in which he prays for the victims, their families and "the gunmen lead astray by his own fear, evil and hate". Instead of hating others, Carr encourages people to "Get together... [because] we are all love, unconditional love".

Politicians encourage us to live our lives as normal and not be overwhelmed by the preachers of terror such that our way of life be spoilt.

But I have to admit to being more than a little troubled by recent events.

Beheadings, crucifixions, cutting people in half, the sexual abuse of women are all outside the realm of what I understand to be sane behaviour. It troubles me that people who are involved in such atrocities attempt to justify them, and these same ones declare death on people like Australians.

Is there an anchor for 'normal'?

In Sydney I sensed that a 'new normal' is emerging for Australians. I then asked myself the question: 'Is there anything in my life that I would want to remain normal even amidst the greatest upheavals? Is there something normal in my life that would stand firm and challenge the most ugly and brutal realities of life? Is there something normal in my life that promotors of evil do not have the heart or capacity for?'

My answer is yes and it is found on the lips of Jesus Christ, who said "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you... Do to others as you would have them do to you... Be merciful, just as your Father [in heaven] is merciful."

Rather than anger and bitterness, I want these loving actions to be normal in my life to love all people yet not love the evil they do. Some might say that is naïve in the face of present threats, but few would argue against the view that the way of Jesus is better.

Jesus endured the wounds of an Enemy to triumph through love with forgiveness. He revealed that God is merciful, compassionate and just, as He bore man's punishment for sin.

I am prepared for a 'new normal' but there are some normal things I never want to change – love, forgiveness and mercy.

Who wants to live in a world where the 'new normal' is brought about by merciless hatred that has no heart to forgive? That is an abnormality to which I will never give credence.

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