The world seems to have a strange, sick fascination with blood. Movies full of gory violence and dramatic bloodshed appear in ever-increasing numbers; books about vampires and other mythical creatures that exist only by consumption of blood have obtained something akin to a cult following. Blood is a precious commodity, sought for both by those suffering from disease and those interested in perpetrating it. Countless wars have been fought for the sake of bloodlines. Entire countries crumble because their citizens perish from tainted blood. Martin Luther, later quoted by Benito Mussolini during World War II, stated “Blood alone moves the wheels of history.” Leviticus 17:11 intones, “The life of a body is in its blood.”
Yet, for all the world’s enchantment with blood, very few seem interested in conserving it. Conflict, oppression, and mass murder have left jagged scars on the history of the last century. In the last decade alone, roughly 105 million people have been killed as a result of war. In Afghanistan, 2 million have perished. In Sudan, 1.5 million. In Rwanda, 800,000; and in Bosnia and Burundi, 250,000 each. The list of countries is nearly endless; the list of names practically infinite. Tragically, once large numbers of people have been killed, they cease to have names. How can we name one out of millions? How can we keep track of unfathomable devastation? How can we atone for such immeasurable desolation? The heartbeats that pounded through the veins of millions have been obliterated.
I wonder how big a puddle the blood of 105 million people would make. Would it be a swimming pool? Would it be an ocean? It amazes me how easily tragedies are categorized in lists, as if one can be ranked higher than another. Should not the life of just one be infinitely important to us? Should not the loss of even one child, one mother, one brother, or one grandparent fill our hearts with grief? To feel the abysmal darkness of the death of others is an integral part of love. It is part of a love exemplified by God himself, who is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Can we fathom the heartbreak of God when his precious children are killed, and then become just another tally mark on our lists of dead?
Blood is incalculably precious, for in it is one’s life. It is with blood that we were redeemed. It is by blood that we can approach the throne of God. It is blood that allows us to share hope with others. “It was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
One puddle of blood repaired the connection between humanity and God. May we accept the enormity of that event, and may we love so intensely that we dedicate our lives to the spread of that sacrifice. May we do our best to spread peace wherever we go, for, as an ancient proverb hums, “Man’s skin has many colors, but underneath all his blood is red.” We are all kin. May we, being made new in our inner beings, spark a revolution of hope instead of hate, brotherhood instead of division, and faith instead of fighting. May we move the wheels of history, and transform the future.