Last week when I heard the news about the attacks in Paris, I was outraged and deeply saddened—a sentiment that has increased as the week’s events have continued to unfold, giving way to a clarification of Jesus’ distinct and compelling call.
Familiarity with the theatre and the cafes where people were shot has made these attacks close and personal, disturbing me to the point of occupying most of my thinking this past week. Five of the six attacks happened quite close to the neighborhood and church where we lived and served in 2011 and 2012. Our then 16-year-old daughter Anna and I attended a Jesus Culture concert at the Bataclan Theatre—the same venue where 89 people attending the Eagles of Death concert were gunned down a week ago today.
One French friend told me that what most unsettled her was that six attacks happened simultaneously, setting off a cloud of insecurity and fear across all of Paris. This fear has now spread across Europe and North America—catching us up with much of the rest of the world.
Fear and insecurity had already overwhelmed Lebanon and Turkey in recent weeks due to suicide bombers, and the Russians have now officially attributed the downing of their flight over the Sinai Peninsula to a bomb. Refugees continue to flee Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and other places due to war, and Palestinians and Israelis live with threats and violence every day. Everywhere we look, violence produces terror, begets acts of vengeance, and accelerates the cycle of killing.
How are we to respond? My first reaction was a longing to be there in Paris with our friends and the church communities we know and love. I emailed friends, struggled to pray, poured over the news, and prayed some more. A few thoughts come to mind as I seek God’s wisdom regarding responses to current events, combined with links to articles I hope you find useful.
1) Love and worship the One God, Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Find your security in God’s unfailing love and care. Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money, security, safety)(Matthew 6:24). Let God’s perfect love drive out all fear.