This entire weekend, ever since the horrendous attacks in Paris that killed over 120 innocent lives, I've seen countless Facebook friends alter their profile photo to indicate their support for France. I've seen images of the Eiffel Tower, and images of various building worldwide, lit in a way to mimic the French flag. And I've seen many words of support and sorrow.
But I've also seen ugliness. I've seen political statements from the right and the left, making commentary about how specific politicians in our country are indirectly responsible for the attacks. That is utter nonsense. I've also seen a few who, obviously in their anger (even though they truly were not affected by it) advocate an immediate and swift military response. This disturbs me.
Why? Because those who call themselves Christian seem to forget that Christ himself called for us to respond differently when it comes to violence. Matthew 5:43-45 is very clear:
"You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Wow! That's powerful stuff.
And I realized today in church that Jesus not only calls on us to pray for those affected by these events, but for those who perpetrated the acts. That's tough. Sure, we want to go in and exact revenge. We would maybe even love to nuke 'em. But that's not the response that we, as Christians, are called to do. We are called to be Christ in this world, and Christ himself commands us to love and pray for our enemies. Is it easy to do? NO! But it's what we're called to do.
Yes, I know that there are thousands of people, both actual victims, relatives of victims, and even those who lived in the area, and they are severely traumatized by what happened. I am not so naive as to flippantly suggest that the answer is as easy as "pray for your enemies".
Yet, maybe the answer is just THAT easy. We are to pray for the terrorists, not just for Paris or the victims. Will those terrorists find the true Love of God if we do? Probably not. And maybe Jesus' words weren't meant to heal the hearts of the ones who did these acts. Maybe, in the act of praying for those men and women who committed these deeds, we can find comfort and peace in ourselves.
Soli Deo Gloria