Yesterday, I posted thoughts on how Christians should deal with the issue of terror on broad terms (http://faithincolor.blogspot.com/2015/02/how-should-christian-respond-to.html.) Nevertheless, many have asked me to more specifically share my opinion regarding the appropriate response to the latest act of terror carried out in France. Here are my thoughts.
First, there must be a realization. That realization is that these acts are not random acts by malcontents nor are they born of frustration due to some easily defined socio/economic issues that can be solved with job fairs and youth programs. We must realize that we are now engaged in a great World War. This war has been initiated by an ideology that does not believe in coexistence, but rather in the domination and destruction of any philosophies that differ from its own. The goal of this ideology is to exterminate or totally subjugate anything and anyone who holds other views - period.
This attack is not just about France or Europe and this War did not begin yesterday. Isis and like-minded allies are already targeting the US and have indeed already hit us – for years. Remember 911. Remember the US Marine Barracks Bombing in 1983. Remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Remember the Barbary Pirates and “The Shores of Tripoli…” The same parent ideology has spawned all of those crises and attacks and have grown to a world-wide movement that doesn’t just seek to carve out something localized for themselves, but rather seeks to disrupt and annihilate ANY potential dissidence to its view of how the world should be.
The presence of such an ideology, infused with a driving mechanism hell-bent to kill and destroy, demands the attention of people who love and believe in freedom and peace. Those who stand for what is good, righteous and beautiful have an obligation to engage such a philosophy in thought, word, and deed. Practically speaking, that means engaging this evil on a spiritual basis by pointing out its errors and presenting truth. That is one of my primary tasks as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that it is possible for someone who is zealous to the point of killing others, to have a spiritual confrontation with the living God and to be transformed into a new creation. Do I have an example? Yes. I am sure most of you are familiar with the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. This hateful, religious zealot encountered the risen Jesus Christ on his way to “a mission” and was confronted with his own wickedness. In the process, his heart and mind were renewed and his life was transformed by the power of the experience. I can report that I have witnessed these types of transformations and seen what a life surrendered to the transforming power of God can become! These amazing metamorphic encounters happen today and they are real!
Unfortunately, not everyone responds to such an appeal. Even worse, some individually and corporately devote themselves to the destruction of as many people as possible as they reject the appeal to reason. Such persons MUST be stopped. Therefore, along with the appeal t reason, the enforcement of the maintenance of peace and safety by force must be implemented with skill, vigor, passion and commitment. In Romans 13
“…rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
“..bear[ing] the sword” refers to the possession of arms by those in governmental authority to protect the innocent and to maintain the peace. Governments are morally obligated to put down evil doing by the appropriate means, up to and including deadly force. It is clear from the attacks that have occurred in our times, that peace-loving peoples around the globe, including the US, have reason to be vigilant, to anticipate similar attacks on their home soils and have the duty to prevent them by destroying the specific movement that is planning and launching them. Paris was not only the execution of a terror mission, but a dress rehearsal for more of the same around the world for years to come.
That is why while it is absolutely essential that we pray and work for peace through peaceful means with anyone willing to listen, learn and be transformed – after all, the Scripture beacons us, “Come, let us reason together” – it is nevertheless just as essential that we also maintain peace and preserve innocent life by actively combating with deadly force those who are determined to harm us with violence. Peace must be pursued AND peace must be maintained. Both actions differ from each other, yet peace is the goal and both are necessary in this troubled and complex world. Working for peace in any capacity, spiritually or militarily, is costly, potentially dangerous, and yet must be done. May we summon the energy to do all within our power to seek the peace as even as we protect it. Lord, grant us strength, wisdom and courage and please have mercy on us all.