'Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth'
If we are passionate enough to die for something then let us also live positively for it, says the Rev Andrew Watson
THE town of Cordoba in southern Spain boasts, among other things, a Royal Equestrian Academy and a bridge that dates back to Roman times. It also experiences soaring summer temperatures - the day we visited it was 37C.
One of the most interesting buildings in Cordoba is a huge Cathedral, highly ornate with many fine examples of religious architecture and art.
It was constructed over the top of a mosque which had been a worship centre for Muslims during the centuries the Moors lived in that region.
Hundreds of its pillars and coloured arches remain. However while excavating, it was discovered that the mosque had in fact been built over an even more ancient Christian church building: a church, built over a mosque, which was built over a church... So whose 'turf' was it really?
It was a Sunday afternoon, and along with visitors from many other countries, we sheltered from the heat for a while. People sipped bottled water and snapped pictures, despite signs requesting reverence.
It seemed to sum up a lot about our 21st century western culture. Here was an ancient shrine on a Sabbath day, filled with people who were neither worshipping a God of any name nor promoting and defending a religious faith.
We were just tourists, taking pictures on our mobile phones to share on social media, before moving on to get coffee or ice cream.
I found myself wondering if battles had been fought for this piece of ground, if people had lost their lives for the convictions we were treating with such casual indifference.
Part of me was relieved we were not shedding anyone's blood in conflict, yet another part of me felt a little ashamed, like we were people who no longer have beliefs, morals or ideals worth struggling for.
The experience certainly made me think. Sometimes we do need to struggle for what is right and good and true. And let's face it, people have such different ideas and convictions concerning just about everything, struggle seems inevitable.
But maybe we could agree on this: as far as possible, when we differ we should seek to do so without weapons and bloodshed. For our generation will soon pass and others will receive the territory we fought over, and one day tourists might eat ice cream on our graves.
If we are passionate enough to die for something then let us live positively for it, seeking to persuade others winsomely by loving self-sacrifice and kindness, not brutal force.
For remember this: it will be the 'meek' - those who are humble, gentle in strength, merciful and considerate toward others - who will receive blessing from heaven.
"Blessed are the meek," said Jesus of Nazareth, "for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
:: The Rev Andew Watson is minister of Dunfanaghy and Carrigart Presbyterian Churches in Donegal. Further information at www.dunfanaghypresbyterianchurch.com or www.wordsurfers.com