Wow. What a weekend. I was in Lancaster PA with Rob’s sisters, an aunt, my Hannah and Joy and lots of nieces enjoying some relational time and a little Christmas shopping. How trivial that seemed when the news began rolling in about Paris. So frightening. So sad. So ugly.
For many parts of the world, fear and violence are “normal.” For those of us somehow blessed enough to live in a (mostly) free and (mostly) stable society, these images are shocking. A peaceful day full of laughing and shopping and eating just comes to a screeching halt as ALERT scrolls in red across the television screen at dinner – police and emergency workers scramble to protect, save lives and hunt down the terrorists. While we just sit and watch in silence.
Who were these people who, like us, were just going about their day and were suddenly gone? They had families, hopes and plans.
And who were the others who were convinced that these acts of violence were actually meaningful and purposeful – for good? They’ve been taught that this is righteous behavior, that God is pleased … that the sky is green and the grass is blue. They also had families, hopes and plans.
Both the victim and terrorist have been robbed. The victim, of life on Planet Earth. The terrorist, of Truth.
What frightens me more is that, had I been raised in a culture and belief system of death, violence, hatred and lies … I would have been a terrorist too. It was not my choice to be born of two loving parents in a country and culture where I was pointed toward life, peace, love and Truth. I don’t pretend that there is just too much good in my heart to keep me from evil. I know that it is only God’s grace that I don’t have a bomb strapped to my midsection.
My friends, our enemy isn’t ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, Taliban … or any of the other 60 terrorist groups listed with the U.S. Department of State. Our one true enemy is the “Father of Lies,” the one who prowls around like a lion, looking for those he can devour, the one whose sole purpose is to “steal, kill and destroy.” We dress him in red and hand him a pitchfork. We make creepy films about him and call it entertainment. Evil has a name.
He doesn’t just inspire these militant attacks on the innocents. He whispers to the ones who carry out violence in our schools and neighborhoods; tells boys that girls are only good for one thing; convinces girls they have no value except beauty and, too bad, they don’t even have that; reminds us of our failures and regrets; and speaks hopelessness into our brokenness.
He is both overt and covert in his destruction.
Thankfully, we have a Warrior King who has already won the war and He stands with us as we face our daily battles, large and small. Friends, if you don’t know Jesus, you are unarmed and standing unprotected in an open field. You are surrounded. A simple explanation of why and how to follow Jesus is HERE.
We fear death. Period. Really, does it matter if we are hit by a car, have a heart attack or are blown up? Some of us fear the actual process of dying and many also just fear what is beyond death. But God’s advice over and over is, “do not fear.” (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 41:13, 2 Kings 6:16, 1 Chronicles 28:20) Because anything we do or say in fear has potential to be devastating.
Our response will be either fight or flight and that takes many shapes and forms. We can say terrible things to people we love due to an underlying fear. We can deprive and butcher ourselves – to death – in fear. We can place ourselves in dangerous situations and lose out on amazing opportunities … because of fear.
We must commit to allow love and wisdom be our guide – whether we are concerned about a kid in our child’s class at school who may be unstable, or whether we think a person on the bus is a terrorist. We need to keep our eyes and hearts open. Wise as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
And, most of all, we need to PRAY. Because, truly, we can create laws and curfews, elaborate tracking and security systems … but NONE of that changes hearts. Only God can do that, and we are called to live authentic lives of love to help draw people to Him. That is our greatest defense.
The “cure” to evil in the world, my friends, isn’t a war on terror. It’s war on the human heart.