ISIS and Paris

We’ve all been horrified by the violence in Paris this past Friday. The death and injury toll has shocked people all over the world. But perhaps it’s the setting that shocks us most — a restaurant, a football game, and a concert hall. These are not war zones.

Eiffel TowerWe have grown almost desensitized to mass graves in Syria and religious violence in Iraq. We have almost forgotten civilian deaths in Ukraine and the brutality in Afghanistan.

In recent years, thousands of men and women, boys and girls — all created in the image of God — have died on battlefields and in conflict zones. But Paris? It shakes our confidence.

People have challenged the efficiency of European security services. “Why did they not stop this?” Others have suddenly been shaken from complacency and reacted in fear. “Bomb them back!”

Those of us who value life, who see it as sacred, who believe in the dignity and equality of all human beings, face an earnest dilemma. Will we hold the high ground? It has been rightly said that “our enemy has won when we become like them.

Let’s keep in mind the following two Kingdom mandates.

Love must triumph. Fear, especially terror, can reduce any of us to prejudice and indiscriminate violence. But followers of Christ are called to the extraordinary mission of loving our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). In the flesh we will want to retaliate, punish, berate, and hate. God appoints governments to decide these things. We must resolve to pray and love.

Faith must sustain. It’s more clear than ever that tanks, planes, and police forces cannot guarantee our security. We dare not place our confidence in our own strength. The Psalmist reminded ancient Israel:

The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. (Psalm 33:16-17)

Our trust — our faith — rests in the Lord. It must rest in Him.

Never has the Christian witness been more severely challenged. Never has it been more urgently needed. Those who follow Christ have an opportunity — no, an obligation — to lift the common dialogue. Those without Christ might be driven by fear, anger, and retribution. Can we model something higher and something greater?

It will not be welcome. But only this voice can produce true hope.

May our words be shaped by grace this week, despite the fear and the tears.

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11 Responses to ISIS and Paris

  1. Dan says:

    David,
    Thanks for the reminder to love our enemies. Just be careful not to equate doling out justice for crimes committed as becoming like our enemy. I also believe if an armed citizen could have stopped the killing of innocents by deadly force against the terrorists, they would have been totally justified in doing so. The problem with our generation and younger is we have never really witnessed the actual cost of freedom.
    I love your blog and appreciate you constantly lifting our eyes to a Godly perspective.
    Your Hoosier Mate!

    • David Timms says:

      Hey my Hoosier Mate – always good to hear from you. 🙂 I agree wholeheartedly about “doling out justice.” Hence my comment about “God appoints governments to decide these things.” Romans 12:17-19 challenges my instinctive desire for retribution, too. Blessings!

  2. Richard Rowe says:

    Yeah idk, but I’ll love their dead asses all the way to hell.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Elaine says:

    This was another horrendous act of violence, orchestrated by hate. Met my daughter for breakfast this morning. Her comment regarding the people who did this believe their actions are truly justified and as believers in a holy and loving God this is so hard to comprehend. Yet, we are called to love and not hate our enemies and of course pray. Thank you David for your encouraging and wise words.

    • David Timms says:

      Yep. Hate is the easy reply to hate. It just doesn’t achieve the righteousness of God. Great that you can have deeper discipleship conversations like this with your daughter!

  4. Jan Neff says:

    So many things swirling around my brain. Thinking about how the ISIS terrorists who die go to the same hell eternity as the ones they kill who are not God’s children. Someone might say, well, of course, duh! But for some reason that’s a real ‘wow’ for me as I contemplate. Then listening to Ben Watson’s comments on CBN about our Black/White lives and after the whole Ferguson mess and all that’s led to – having read Jonathan Cahn’s books, we keep going, as the world, right where the enemy wants us. There is a Being orchestrating all this and he doesn’t have our best interests at heart! So yeah, I’m not going to go physically fight ISIS as an older woman. But I can fight with better and eternal weapons. Eternity away from God is a REALLY long time………..

    • David Timms says:

      Jan, I suspect this might be the only way for us to learn to love our enemies … to see them, too, as broken humanity in deep need of redemption. Our real enemy are the forces of spiritual darkness, the Prince of the power of the air, who blinds the world and foments this violence for his own purpose.

  5. Ted Bjorem says:

    Just affirming the words…….

  6. Barry Thygesen says:

    Hi David, you are a pain sometimes. When that “Justice ” side of me wants lextelionus your words remind me to more than let it go but go the extra mile and love the hard to love ones too, and that takes real discipline and a bit of support of the Holy Spirit. I have always had a strong sense of justice for the minority and underdog. But there is a dark side to that in me that I don’t like either, it wants to get even. Thank you heaps for the reminder and prod to keep perspective

    • David Timms says:

      Barry, thanks for the reminder that we can have “a dark side” to our sense of justice. So true. And yes, loving those who would harm us certainly requires empowering and enabling by the Holy Spirit. I’ll never simply drift in that direction on my own! Blessings.

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