We are, it is hard to disagree, in what will be a decades-long struggle with radical Islamists. Last Thursday, that stark reality was made clear again with the insane attack on innocent lives. Others can opine on geopolitical realities, military strategies, and more. But I’m burdened to ask, how do we respond as Christians?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can and will share some suggestions in this painful time. I believe there are things Christians can and must do to respond to this, and so many other, terrorist attacks.
Pray for the families. #PrayforParis. Pray for France. Pray for Muslims. And pray for those who are our enemies. That’s a uniquely Christian thing to do – to pray for all, including our enemies. It’s not easy, but it is our calling.
2. Love the hurting.
Though most of us are not in Paris right now, we know that Christians are there, along with others, loving those who have lost so many. And even from where we sit, we can love the French and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). It was the French newspaper LeMonde that said in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, “We are all Americans now.” Well, today, we are all Parisians.
3. Love our enemies.
Again, that is what makes our faith unique. Most of us are watching this unfold from outside of France, but as the President of the Unites States said in his remarks, “this is an attack on all of humanity.” When we let that sink in, love isn’t our first natural feeling. But love is what we are called to anyway.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous'” (Matthew 5:43-45).
But in moments like this, that response can be hard to come by. We have to consider our own tendencies, and be ready to flee from temptation. Fresh memories from 15 years ago come back for Americans this week, and strong feelings rise to the surface.
About the Author
Ed Stetzer is an author, speaker, researcher, pastor, church planter, and Christian missiologist. He is an active contributor to the North American discussion on missional church, church planting, and Christian cultural engagement.