How should Christians respond to acts of terrorism?

Taking another human’s life is murder, the Bible teaches

A couple of weeks ago I submitted an article on the topic of mass shootings. In this article I will address the matter of evil, atrocities and violence done in God’s name.

God is the giver of life which implies that we are here by His will. Colossians 1:16 says that God made everything “…in heaven and on earth…everything was made through Him and for Him.” Following this line of thought, we recognize that our lives and the lives of others, do not belong to us, but God.

The Bible clearly teaches that taking another human’s life is murder. This automatically condemns all terrorism, for the intentional taking of life or lives is contrary to God and His teaching. Anyone carrying out an act of terror, however spiritual or religious their talk, is unaware of and/or in rebellion to God and His law.

Christians do not approve of terrorism of any kind. But how should Christians respond to acts of terrorism? Our first response tends to be over-reactive feelings of prejudice and hatred, but that is not the proper Christian response.

Christians need to pray…for everyone. The Lord said to “Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). As we mourn the loss of life, we pray for the grieving, the injured…and the perpetrators and their families.

Christians are commanded to love. This is done by “weeping with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and by “loving our enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Love also reduces the potential that we might have for unfairly judging or hating those who share the same nationality and religion of the terrorists.

Christians should be prepared to forgive. This is a difficult task, but as Jesus hung on the cross, mutilated, humiliated and dying, He said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Just in case we think that that kind of forgiveness is possible only for the Lord, we might want to read Acts 7 where Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian church, offered very much the same petition for those taking his life.

Christians should, remembering that “Whatever you’d do for one of the least of these…you do for me” (Matthew 25:40), try to help in practical ways such as donations to victim funds.

Christians, as peacemakers, should be prepared to enter into dialogue with others on this matter of terrorism. And it should not be the current opinion of peers, the media or the government that guides us, but the example of Jesus. It is our business to displace fear and present hope.

If the forgoing admonitions seem difficult, if not somewhat supra-spiritual, then let me add that, though I have suggested them, I struggle with them. We need God’s grace and though they are difficult, they are not impossible, for “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

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