Recent events in Paris, Beruit, and Baghdad have lead to multiple people on Social Media decrying the dangers of Islam and Muslims. Immediately the media blames ISIS (a logical assertion even if there is no evidence yet). There are many Muslims denouncing these actions, enough to say terrorism is not a universally accepted action. In fact, many of them say this is anti-muslim. (simply search #muslimsarenotterrorists on Twitter). It’s akin to saying the Christian crusades are indicative of true Christian doctrine (which they’re not). We must be careful of this logical fallacy.
Yet, for those of who believe in Christ, aware of His teaching regarding humanity, we understand the element of truth — all people are dangerous because they have human hearts. The Bible uses heart as the center of thought and root of all actions. We look and see 140+ people dead at the hands of evil, wicked men with wicked hearts. We know only those who have faith in Christ have a regenerated heart (Ezekiel 36:26). But seeing this evil and atrocity, naturally we want to pick up the banner to fight. The wicked must be stopped. But we have to ask ourselves, what does the Lord desire?
This is a tragic event. This is an evil event. What does the Lord say? How do we respond to tragic and evil events?
Here Jesus answers this question,
“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:1-4).
A couple observations about this text:
- Some Galileans died by the hands of Pilate on altars. It seems like this is evil murder based on the way Jesus says, “suffered this fate.”
- When the tower in Siloam fell and 18 died, Jesus views this as a catastrophic and unplanned event resulting in death.
- Jesus is also aware some of our natural response is, “See God judged those who died.” But Jesus actually avoids this line of reasoning by turning his attention to those who watched, heard about it, and listening to Him at this precise moment. He asks them, “Do we think ourselves less sinful?” Answer being, “We shouldn’t.”
- Jesus instead asks the more important question, what is your relationship with Him?
So how should we respond?
First, we must make sure we are saved. The deaths of those 140 people are tragic and God does not delight in their death, “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32). Tragic death occurs. Are you saved? Is your trust in Jesus Christ? Would you abandon everything (by everything, I mean everything tangible and intangible: pleasures, relationships, jobs, status, and family) to follow Him?
Second, how do we respond to the terrorists? There is a two-fold prayer I use, “Lord bring the evil, wicked one to salvation or justice quickly.” Most of the responses right now are compassion for the victims and anger towards the terrorists. We do not like evil and justice demands evil be judged, condemned, and punished. I want this. Naturally my primary response is, “death to these terrorist.” I do not want any group of people to commit terrorist activities on earth and kill people. So if we can stop them, then stop them. Reading the psalms we find David praying this too. “Bring the evil one to justice;” “Stop the evil one from his transgressions.”
Yet, the Gospel and His grace changes everything too. His grace is scandalous in the sense that He saves the dirtiest, stinkiest, and lowliest people on earth — including the great terrorist, the Apostle Paul. Knowing I deserve judgement, condemnation, and death, yet received mercy, compassion, kindness, and grace leads me to have the same feeling towards the enemy.
They are lost in their sinful thinking, desires, and actions — deluded by Satan and wicked. Just like I (and you) were / are (Ephesians 2:1-3). So though I want evil stopped by governments (Rom 13:4) I also pray for their salvation. I pray they come to see their actions as sinful, declare it, confess it, see Jesus and the love, mercy, and grace offered by Him. I ask they repent and place their trust in Him then go on to proclaim the Gospel (even if done in prison).
For I know two things about God. First, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways. . . .” (Ezekiel 33:11). Second, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). God will stand for justice, He will not relent. Yet He also desires to see His children saved — even wicked terrorist (and as a side note, sex-offenders too).
UPDATE: ISIS has taken credit for the terrorist attacks (as of 9:20am on CNN.com).