Last week, I was listening to the radio when there was a “Test of the Emergency Alert System”. It’s common enough to get severe weather alerts that way here in Michigan (between the snow in the winter and thunderstorms and tornados in the summer), but I was surprised to hear something new this time. After the requisite disclaimer that “this is only a test”, they listed possible emergencies, and beyond the usual “severe weather”, it also said “in case of a terrorist attack” (or something to that effect). That scared me. There is an international airport not far from here, so it’s not too much of a stretch.
And then I woke up on Saturday morning and heard about what happened in Paris. It saddened me, of course – and frightened me, too. The people of Paris have been in my prayers, but I’ve also done my best to remember the people of Syria – not just the Christians there, but the Muslims, too, and even ISIS.
It breaks my heart to see so many people gladdened by the idea of bombing ISIS, wary of all the Syrian refugees, and even glaring suspiciously at the American Muslims – and even more when this sort of rhetoric is coming primarily from people who consider themselves Christians. Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us – if we only “Pray for Paris”, and then turn around and bomb Syria, wouldn’t a pagan nation do the same? We mustn’t lash out in fear. We should be reaching out to the Muslims in our midst, not in some misguided attempt to convert them, but simply to love them. If we don’t, we run the risk of alienating them.
It won’t be easy. Just praying for one’s enemies is a humbling thing, and I’ve often found myself at a loss for words when attempting to intercede on behalf of those who hate me – who hate our God and our country and especially our way of life. At one point, I asked God, “What can love do against bombs and guns?” And He replied, “What can death do to my people? It has no power over you, because I have loved you.”
So please pray with me, not just for Paris, but for ISIS and Syria, too. Pray also for our leaders, that they will not succumb to fear or anger or the thirst for vengeance. Pray that we may all live out the love of Christ, because that is our sure salvation.