On Terror

Last night I with most of the world was struck by the tragic events that unfolded in Manchester. For a while, these terror attacks were so prevalent, so frequent that I started to feel numb to them. Attacks like this were just part of the way the world works now. But something about what happened last night woke something up in me. These were teenagers. Kids that went to see a pop star at a concert. The same kids that I work with day after day here at Westminster could just as easily have been in the audience that night. And something about that hit home with me.

Obviously on June 4th, Dr. Biddle will have a lot more educated insight to share with us, and I for one am now more than ever looking forward to meeting with him. But I want to share my own thoughts on terror today, and how I think we can form an appropriate response as Christians.

There are of course the inappropriate, but all too predictable, responses. There are those who will want to jump to blame before anything else, to somehow make this a political issue, or even worse, a religious issue. Let me say it here clearly and loudly, the kind of people who perpetrate these attacks do not represent true, honest Islamic faith. Faithful Muslims the world over have labeled them for exactly what they are, a toxic, inhumane, and immoral perversion of what is at its heart a beautiful religion of peace and devotion. When we assume that all Muslims are like this, or that this attack is representative of the entire Islamic faith, we take our eye off the ball. We loose the plot. We buy in to the narrative that the terrorists themselves want to advance.

The irony is that the predictable response of blame feels like it is getting something done, but actually isn’t. And what many people feel like is a non-response, a passive approach, might actually be the most effective way to change the world for the better.

For instance, as Christian people we need to be all about prayer in these troubled times. We need to pray for the victims of this attack. We need to pray for the mothers of children who have passed. We need to pray for the children who have been injured, who will remember this event for the rest of their lives if not carry its scars, who have lost another ounce or two of innocence far too early in life. And yes, we need to take Jesus seriously, praying for those who would even dream of such an attack. We need to pray for their souls, for their ability to see the error of taking another human life, and for change to come. These can be the hardest prayers we ever put into words, but they are extremely important all the same. We worship the God who told us in Exodus that “If a neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.” (Exodus 22:27)

We also need to be about building the Kingdom of God right here, in the community we’ve been planted in. The truth is, I can’t do much with my own two hands for the people of England. I’m over here, and even if I were over there I would just get in the way. But if terrorism is a concern of mine, I can be about compassion. I can be about justice. I can be about redemption. I can try to find the places in my life where my relationships are broken and bring them together. I can try to find those who are on the outsides of our civilization, those who have no home or food or clothing, and give out of my abundance. I can talk to the barista who others just pass by, trying to bring value into someone’s day. I can brick by brick by brick build the Kingdom of God in my own context, using the light of Christ to beat back this present darkness.

Of course, there are political responses that need to happen. Of course, a sense of statesmanship between the leaders of the world will be required. I look forward to discussing those solutions more in the future, and am so very excited that we will have a real life expert in our midst to do just that. But all I have right now is me. All I have right now is the community I live in. The terrorists dream of a world where the darkness of war is never far away, where the only way to get what they want is to kill those who are on the outside. I want to live in to a different dream, the dream of Jesus Christ. I want to live into to a dream where everyone who is naked will be clothed, where everyone who is hungry will be fed, and where everyone who is lonely will have company. (Matthew 25) I want to live into a dream where I love everyone, regardless of what they may or may not believe, every bit as much as I love myself, and in so doing come to realize that love is the way I love God. (Matthew 22:36-40) I want to live into a dream where God will wipe away every tear, do away with mourning, laugh in the face of death, and I am beyond grateful that same God has asked me to join in.

And so today, I’m praying for those who mourn. I’m lifting up those who are hurting, and allowing my heart to hurt with theirs. I’m adding to my prayers a desire to see the Kingdom unfold in our midst, right here in front of me. I’m going to live in to the light, until the darkness has no place to hide.

Come, Lord Jesus.

blog comments powered by Disqus