Like you I was shocked to watch the news unfold this past week of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. My heart and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones through this senseless and cowardly act.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Christ-followers is that they always move in the direction of people in need. You will find followers of Jesus compassionately serving wherever there are people who are hurting. Whether that hurt was created by social storms, natural catastrophes, unspeakable evils, injustice and oppression, or the challenges of living in a tough geographical context, you will find the followers of Jesus there — doing what Jesus would do!
One thing that a true follower of Christ should never do is to wantonly take the lives of others. To strap on a bomb, walk into a crowd, and kill yourself and those around you is not something that Jesus would do. Such a heinous act would be a direct violation of both the example and the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus never took a life. Instead He gave His own life as a ransom for many. And Jesus never instructed His followers to take a life. He was instead a servant-leader who showed the world what love looks like. Jesus told His disciples that love — not hate — would be the distinguishing hallmark of His followers.
Those responsible for the bombings in Paris have once again shown the world what you can expect from a worldview that is devoid of a sound theology of the sanctity of human life. ISIS, of course, is among those claiming responsibility for this tragedy that took the lives of 129 people and injured hundreds of others. Their impoverished worldview, like those of other terrorist organizations, has once again wreaked havoc and left a trail of wrecked lives.
Pundits and intelligence think tanks will connect countless dots as they analyze the Paris attack. As Steve Jobs once said, you can only connect the dots by looking back. Ultimately, those dots lead to the heart of a worldview that sanctions the killing of those who are not of like faith and practice — or infidels. Those dots will lead to teachings that speak of jihad, not all of which can be explained away or sanitized to define jihad as merely a spiritual struggle.
I applaud the many in the Islamic world who are crying out against the terrorist attacks in Paris. However, my Muslim friends are going to have to do more than hold candlelight vigils. They must ultimately address the exegesis of their own scriptures — especially those passages that sanction violence.
Our decisions are largely driven by our worldview. When Islamic terrorists feel justified in creating hell on earth because of how they interpret their own holy writings, then no one is safe. Islam must take greater measures to educate or reeducate their own youth in order to raise up a generation that thinks differently about the meaning of jihad.
As for me, I will remain an intentional follower of Jesus. There is no confusion with Him. He modeled well what it means to love others and instructed His followers to do the same. I am praying for Paris.
I encourage all of us to join Omar and thousands of others around the world in praying for France. On the news, I saw—taped to the shattered window of a bullet-ridden restaurant—a note that read, “Faith will overcome Fear.” Let’s pray for the people of Paris and all the families impacted by this ungodly act, that their faith in Christ will increase and their fear of man (terrorism) will greatly diminish.
Photo credit: “Paris Night” by Benh LIEU SONG – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons