The news of terrorism in Paris, France, this past week, has taken many people on an emotional roller coaster. What do we make of all this violence and killing in Paris? All sorts of questions have been rolling through my mind. Will it happen in other free cities in the world?
In our feelings of sadness and anger, we might have feelings and thoughts like, “Should we blow up ISIS/ISIL till kingdom come?”… or would that just create more hurt in the world? Back when the Twin Towers came down in NYC, I remember having similar feelings–that if we should cower and absorb the blow of the enemy, we’d be weak and cowardly.
In the midst of our turmoil, yes, we need to “do something,” but yet, I feel that we also need to take a step back. I, for one, feel the pain of the innocent 129 people in Paris who were murdered (…and yes, it’s easy for me to say this because I was not personally affected.) I also feel the shame for my non-Christian friends (including Muslims) who hate what happened in France. Moreover, what confuses and shakes me up is when I hear that a few of these young terrorists were homegrown in the west. That really makes me wonder “Why?!”
Nevertheless, the threat of ISIL is very real. These ideologically-driven terrorists are actually out to wipe out and decimate western (and Christian) civilization. We do need to defend ourselves with diligence. We do need to raise our shields in self-defence against the forces out to hurt and kill innocent people.
As people who are in Christ Jesus, we can recall what our Lord and Saviour said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Gospel of Matthew, ch. 5, verses 38-45, Holy Bible)
This passage has always irked me, especially when I feel personally hurt by enemies. Now when we are collectively feeling the pain of death, Jesus’ statement above is never easy to accept.
I don’t believe in pacifism; but nor do I believe that revenge-based, eye-for-eye retaliation can solve the world’s problems of terrorism.
Who is the enemy behind the enemy here? I would point to the evil one, the devil. The Spirit of evil One in the world wants all people to continue living in ignorance, confusion, hate, and division.
We can pray on several fronts: 1) for ourselves, that we will not be driven by fear and anger; and, 2) for our enemies who seek to hurt innocent people, that they may come to experience the love of God in their own lives. People who seek power and control will mis-believe that controlling others through war and violence is the way to peace and unity. It is not! Humanity has done this for ages in the name of religion and world peace (including Roman emperors, the Crusaders, dictators like Hitler and Pol Pot, and now, radical Islamic terrorists).
Ultimately, only the Spirit of God, and forgiveness through Christ Jesus, can bring true peace, unity and love into the lives of people in the world.