The attacks last Friday in Paris have brought to immediate attention the threat that terrorism represents in the world today. And it has brought about a large scale showing of support and sympathy for the victims and their families. Facebook is full of altered profile photos in honor of the victims. Collectively, this act of terror has gotten our attention.
Without a doubt we could engage in a lengthy discussion about the best way to respond to the attacks in France, and many of us probably could say we support or understand the French military response and some of us might argue against it. It is only natural that there are many viewpoints, and solid defenses for each, yet few of us would profess to have all the answers. One things seems certain, though, we all must remain vigilant.
These most recent attacks have certainly gotten my attention and, frankly, I’m angry about them. And I’m concerned that these types of attacks will continue and that we will see such violence much closer to home in the near future. It seems we have little control to prevent such things from happening and I often feel less than confident that our government is going about prevention the way they should. I certainly am not smart enough to have all the right answers, but I sure expect those charged with our safety to be using every available means to protect us.
I guess it’s pretty natural to feel a certain level of uncertainty in the face of this kind of heinous act. My hope in all of this is that each of us is becoming more and more certain about the evil that exists in this world. The Bible is and always has been quite clear about the fallen state of man and the nature of evil, but if you haven’t believed this before, I hope you are believing it now. Peter wrote these words: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8)
The Bible actually tells us quite a bit about the powers of evil. I think we do well to pay close attention. For example, Paul taught us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2Corinthians 11:14). Evil is not always obvious at first sight and we have to use discernment to assure we do not succumb to one who may seem good on the surface but has evil in the heart. Revelation 12:9 tells us that Satan leads the world astray and from Ephesians 6:12 we know: “…we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Indeed, these acts of terror are perpetrated by men, but these men who commit them are under the influence of evil. Pure, vile, unrestrained evil. Evil that is born of utter darkness and seeks to do even worse things to us. And it is when we understand the true nature of these attacks that we best can understand that reality. And with this understanding we come to know that the true answer lies in only one person, Jesus Christ.
Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The reality is this: if these men who commit these acts of evil would learn the truth about Jesus and repent and come to faith in Him, they would simply stop committing these acts. As it stands today, they generally are brought up in isolation from the Gospel message and are taught that the Lord’s people are the enemy. Isn’t this exactly the message we would expect Satan to place in their heads? But Christians – true Christ followers – do not commit acts of terror and that is a fact as certain as the Earth’s rotation. So the answer to prevention starts with Jesus and the Gospel message.
Likewise, the future for each of us also rests in the Gospel message. For when we have repented and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, evil has no hold on us. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:55-56).
And Jesus told us, very directly, “Do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 10:26-28a). When our lives belong to Jesus, we need not fear anyone or anything.
So let us start dealing with terrorism from a place of faith in Christ. And let our first step in combating terrorism be the sharing of our faith. My prayer is that you will always walk in the grace and blessing of the One who died that you might have eternal life.