Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Hatred, Fear, Terror, and How to Defeat Them

It's been an ugly week. A terrible week. My heart and prayers have dwelt much with the people of Paris after the horrible attacks. My heart is heavy that so many have tried to use it as a platform for their own agenda. I won't be one of those. I just want to talk today about all that evil in the world.

And how we can fight it.

Terrorism is evil. I'm positing that as an axiom, so if you disagree with that general statement, then don't bother reading on.

Terrorism is evil, and those who commit it have let that evil dwell in them, which makes them by extension evil as well. Not beyond redemption, but so committed to their cause that they are unlikely to hear opposing views.

Terrorists, then, are evil. And they are committed. And as people committed to evil, they will work hard to achieve their goals. They will find ways in. They will plot. They will plan.

But their plan isn't just to kill--it's to terrorize. That's part of the definition, right? That they are trying to instill terror into a people group. Not just to hurt and kill them, but to make those who are unharmed fearful. To make them quake. To make them hate them back.

Wait, what?

No, I didn't mistype. Think about it. If these people are working for evil, let's examine what we know about the ultimate Evil. It too has a goal--to steal, to kill, to destroy. And to turn hearts away from God. What turns hearts away from God?

Hatred. Unforgiveness. Bitterness. Fear.

If terrorists can make good people hate Muslims, then they're happy--because they're polarizing the world. They're ending peace, even where war hasn't been officially declared. They're convincing endless nations to greet with hate anyone from the Middle East, which will only help them in their efforts to radicalize more young people. "Look," they'll say, "how the West treats us. Look how they hate us."

I will not hate them.

I will not fear them.

Are the radicals out there, planning ways to sneak into Europe and America? Absolutely. Will they take advantage of the flood of refugees? Absolutely. If the refugees are forbidden entrance to a country, will the radicals find another way in? Absolutely.

So how do we react? Do we lock down our borders? Do we pick up our weapons? Do we declare every Muslim the enemy?

I pray, with everything within me, that we do not.

Eighty years or so ago, there was an evil regime in control of a country. It perpetrated unspeakable evil. It terrorized an entire continent into subjugation. It killed. It raped. It mutilated. It convinced its youth that it was right to do so. And anyone who didn't agree was either killed or forced out.

I have some German blood in me. Does that mean I'm evil by association? Does it mean people were right to distrust any German Americans during WWII? Were we right to force Japanese Americans into internment camps during the war?

I hope you think the answer is "no." But just think, for a moment, how afraid that generation was. How they said, "We're just protecting our country."

Now fast-forward to this regime in Syria who is killing or forcing out millions of its own citizens who don't agree with its beliefs or politics. These people are already victims--and now they're facing a world who will blanket them with hatred, because they fear that one of those evil people--the very people who beheaded their friends and blew up their neighbor's car and burned down their house--might be hidden among them.

This is what our generation will be judged for. How do we respond to this crisis? This tragedy?

We don't defeat terror by reacting from fear or anger or hatred. That is how they win. They steal our peace, they steal our security . . . and they steal the love from our very hearts.

We have to be wise. Absolutely. While we're praying, we would do well to pray that those in authority have discernment. We don't want to be responsible for bringing in those few evil ones. But we also don't want to be responsible for destroying the innocent. We don't want to be responsible for hating an entire group of people because of what a mutual enemy has done. We don't want to step on a slippery-slope of blanket judgment that leads us to become the villain in our effort to protect ourselves. But that is a possibility. We have decisions before us, and some of them would lead us to committing terrible sins in the name of security.

But other paths lead to millions of people hearing the truth about God. Seeing how He loves them. Seeing what it really means to be a Christian. To be part of a faith that isn't founded on killing, like parts of Islam are, but on sacrificing for the salvation of others.

My Jesus didn't kill his enemies. He died for them.

He didn't hate them. He loved them.

This isn't a question of how the nation will respond. It's a question of how you will. Will you hate, or will you love? Will you fear . . . or will you trust in Him?


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