A Suggested Response for the Terrorist Attacks in Paris
There have been many suggested responses to the terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday. A common Facebook meme contains the words “Pray for Paris”. As I thought about this I began to ask myself how should I pray for Paris? And is there much more I can/should do? For the follower of Jesus I would like to suggest a way to think and act. If you are not a follower of Jesus I can’t expect you to think/act this way but it might move you to think about things in a different way.
We should pray for God to comfort the families of the victims and those who are wounded. That is one way we can pray for Paris. But we can’t really pray for the city or even the country can we? What do we want God to do? For the most part Paris has turned her back on God so unless we pray that Paris and her people turn to God through Jesus, I’m not really sure what the point is of praying? Sure, God can make good come out of horrible sin and tragedy and we can pray for that, but that good will ultimately be connected with repentance and faith in Christ. We can pray that God will move into the lives of the first responders and police personnel. But I wonder if that is what most people mean when they ask us to “Pray for Paris”.
We can and should do more than pray. We should be motivated to do something for the people of Paris and for the people of Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many people have already called for “revenge” but should that be the response of the follower of Jesus? God is the only One qualified to take vengeance is He not? Are you and I qualified to do that? And what would happen if we could truly kill everyone in ISIS tomorrow. Do you really believe there wouldn’t be just as many to take their place the next day and the day after that? If you believe in heaven and hell, do you really believe that we should kill those who do not know Jesus and send them to an eternal hell…really? Also, before your cry for vengeance gets too loud have you thought of how you might have turned out if you were brought up in grinding poverty and religious oppression in the Middle East instead of being brought up in the richest land in the history of the world with incredible freedom and opportunity and exposure to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you sure that you would not be a terrorist yourself? I am not excusing behavior…I am just suggesting that our cries for vengeance should be muted by a dose of appreciation for the grace of God in each of our lives.
Also, why would the deaths of these people move us to take action when the deaths of others do not? According to UNICEF, almost 9.7 million children under the age of five die each year from largely preventable diseases like cholera, malaria, and simple infections. That means that yesterday over 26,000 children died and most of them did not die a quick death, but rather have suffered for days or weeks. Where is our outcry over that? And these are problems that we could actually fix through a fraction of the resources we spend on trying to prevent terrorism. The tragedy is that we CAN do something about the most horrible tragedies in our world through giving and serving…yet, most do little or nothing. Is it not possible that if we fed and healed the children of poverty that their older brothers and parents might have a different attitude toward us? I think I’m to the point where I’m willing to give it a try…
I am grieved over the loss of over 120 lives in Paris yesterday but if we want to see anything change we cannot simply pray for Paris. We must pray that God would open the eyes of the blind. We must find new and bold ways in which we can actually seek to show love to our neighbor who lives in the Middle East instead of demanding their death. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us what we should do: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, Let us stop expecting man’s ways to stop man’s sin. Let’s pray and give and serve and fight against every injustice; no matter who is the victim. We serve a big God but a God who will do things His way and wants us to join Him. This will do more than pray for Paris…it just might change our world.