We are reminded in Mark 13 that first of all, we should not be surprised by this event. We may be shocked by how brazen the attacks were or we may have been startled that terrorism once again is striking close to home but we should not be surprised. Jesus tells us that we ought to expect these sort of things as they “must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Mark 13: 7-8). Our Lord continues by saying, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 9:13). The unsettling reality we must live with is that we, as Christians, will be hated by the world—everything and everyone that is opposed to God.
Does that mean we ought to cower back, change our message or lifestyle, or feel sorry for ourselves? No! For we know that the victory is ultimately won. Jesus is victorious! God is working to bring His peace and presence to this hurting and broken world. In times such as these we ought to look ahead and long for that day when Jesus returns triumphant.
- We must pray. We should be people of prayer in all circumstances and for all people. Today we remember the people who were hurt or killed, the families torn apart, and the nation shaken by the attacks. We pray for those who seek to do us harm, including the Muslims. That is the distinctive Christian response—we should do this without even thinking! We pray also for the Christian church around the world to continue to make Christ known around the world while we encourage and support one another.
- We must be moved by all acts of injustice. Here in the West it is easy to disengage due to our self-absorbed culture and the constant stream of information at hand so that we only take note of those things that have potential to impact us. As Christians our hearts ought to break every time some dies at the hands of violence, every time we hear of natural disasters, famine, and disease, and every time war ravages a nation. We need to act in all these circumstances, not just when it is convenient or as a matter of self-preservation.
- We must love our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour 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” (Matthew 6:43-45). This is not an easy thing to do but it is the Christian thing to do.
Loving our enemies also does not mean that we should harbour hate and fear against refugees. Just as not all Muslims are radicals, not all (in fact the overwhelming majority) of refugees are not terrorists. They simply are people trying to survive and keep their families safe; it is not a choice they would have liked to make for themselves.
I pray that we would be mindful of these things as the situation continues to unfold. There are many emotionally charges responses we as human might want to take but we as Christians must remember our command to love God and our neighbours even to the point of death.