Not quite today’s news (this happened yesterday), but important nonetheless. Yesterday, 36 were killed and 147 were injured in a terrorist attack that occurred earlier yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey.
Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming more commonplace. Multiple attacks have been happening here in the United States and in many places abroad.
No matter who perpetrates terror, the goal is always fear. The impact of terror is far greater than the number of people killed or injured. Fear has the capacity to paralyze entire groups of people, even if they are under no actual threat of violence.
So, what to do? Since terror is reaching across the planet, how is it that this needs to be dealt with? Can it be stopped? What should our response be as Christians, who are called by our Lord Jesus to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)?
I believe there simply needs to be a distinction between the faith that we as Christians hold, and the countries that individual Christian citizens might belong to. This does NOT mean that we, as Christians, shouldn’t attempt to influence the countries in which we live. On the contrary! I am simply suggesting that we as Christians cannot hold our countries/governments to the same standards with which we live.
Countries and Citizens
We live in an imperfect world, filled with imperfect people, There is good in this world, as well as evil. In human society, we must create solutions for the problems we face, even if those solutions are imperfect.
There is NO perfect system for managing politics, economies, poverty, wars, or anything else. But, some systems are better than others!
With regards to terror, countries have the right to do everything in their best interests to protect their people from terror, going to the root cause of the source of such terror if at all possible. Without involving details of the politics of all this, the current fight against ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) is absolutely necessary, since terrorists need to know that there are consequences for their actions.
My prayer with regards to this attack in Instanbul is that justice is served on behalf of the victims of these attacks. And remember, the victims of terror are not only those killed or injured. The victims include all those who are filled with fear because of these senseless attacks.
Now, as Christians, how must we respond? While countries have the complete right to function and operate as necessary for the protection of their citizenry, what must we do? And while many Christians may participate in the armed services of their respective countries and have a duty to be a part of that process, how do we respond individually to these acts?
One Bible verse in particular comes to mind. 1 John 4:18 states, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
Those who are afraid need to experience the perfect love of Father God that has been expressed to them. Only by living in the eternal confidence gained by knowing Christ are we able to live lives without fear, since our future for all eternity is secure in him. Dying today or dying tomorrow means being with Jesus.
Our job is to love and engage those who do not know the love of Christ…it is only with this love that fear may be removed.
But, even for the terrorists, we must understand that many times their motivation is not only to cause fear in others. On the contrary, they are so filled with fear themselves that they believe it necessary to commit their acts of violence.
We must love terrorists as well.
Yes, we HATE what they do. What they do is pure evil and we hate all that is evil. And yes, they must face consequences and justice for their actions. Absolutely! There is no room for doubt here.
But, these terrorists are God’s creation. So, we pray. We pray for God to rescue their souls, to fill their hearts with their love, to transform entire societies through revelation of the abundant grace of God.
Does love include justice? Absolutely!
Love includes (1) Love for those impacted by acts of terror (2) Love for those who committed the acts of terror -and- (3) Justice for the victims. All of these combined are an expression of true love.
May the love of Christ dwell richly in all of you!