How Should Christians Respond to Terrorism?

BrusselsI’m heartbroken. In light of yet another terrorist attack–this time in Brussels, Belgium–I sit here feeling utterly helpless.

What could I have done to stop this?
Probably next to nothing, if I’m being optimistic.

What can I do to help keep something like this from ever happening again?
Not much, probably.
Change my Facebook profile picture?
Donate some of what little money I have (that I actually still get from my parents)?
Write a super powerful and uber inspiring blog post?

The truth is, any contribution I could ever possibly offer will hardly scratch the surface in the midst of all the other problems our world is facing. We are fallen broken. We are helpless and in need of help.

Even so, I cannot lie here thinking that all this should stop me. There are still things that can be done, and, even more importantly, there are certain things that should not and must not be done.

As a Christian, I try to make my faith the most important thing in my life. The way that I view my God affects the way that I approach [almost] every single aspect of my being.

So that being said, I must take a look at what is going in the world through the lens of my faith, and ask: How should I, as a follower of Christ, respond to terrorism? How should I respond to murder? How should I respond to the bigotry and fear that will inevitably come in response to these treacherous acts?

Based on what I know of the Bible–the Word of my God–and the life and teachings of Jesus–the Son of God, the Word made flesh–here is what I know.

I know that:

  • The poor and spirit, those who mourn, those who are merciful, and the peacemakers are called “blessed” (Matthew 5:3-4, 7, and 9)
  • If someone strikes us across the right cheek, we are called to turn to them the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
  • We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us or are against us (Matthew 5:44)
  • We are called to do to others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12)
  • The two greatest commands for those who follow Jesus are to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • Those who live by the sword (or, presumably, the gun or the bomb) will inevitably die it (Matthew 26:52)

I also know that life isn’t always as easy as following these words, especially when there are people who intentionally do whatever they can to abhor these words.

I know that the same book from which I got these words say a lot of other things that some would even go so far as to say they contradict these teachings.

People who claim to follow the exact same God that I claim to follow have committed genocide, raped strangers, helpless people, and even their own family members.

I know that for centuries, Christians have been killing other people in the name of the same Jesus that spoke words of love and life, and that even today, some of God’s supposed loudest voices are calling other Christians to “carpet bomb [the terrorists] into oblivion” and even “bomb the shit out of them.”

But, all I can say is, these words seem to run counter to the words of the God they claim to know. They also seem to ignore some of his other words that talk about removing a plank from one’s own eye in order to remove a speck from a neighbor’s eye.

Even so, we build walls (literal and metaphorical). We buy more weapons. We cry for protection that we naively think we can provide for ourselves.

But these tactics have been attempted for thousands of years, and they’ve still proven to be faulty. They’ve still proven time and time again to only make things worse.

The revolution is found in love and in what comes out of love. Perhaps the most famous former terrorist in the world once stated that the signs of the one who knows God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

This does not mean passivity, though it is often confused for it. It is radically, actively seeking out those who do not love and showing them what love looks like. Change starts in our heart. Love cannot be broken down, but only becomes stronger. Love is not found in the midst of war and anger, but in the midst of hurt and despair.

May we love as Christ loved us.

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