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.
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.