Sometimes the season of “peace on earth, goodwill toward all” isn’t. Certainly this is one of those times. Recent acts of violence by the Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram have rocked the civilized world. As Christians, we often feel helpless in the face of such evil and think there is nothing we can do. We are wrong.
The Bible has this crazy idea that prayer changes things. “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NRSV). Certainly we agree with this in principle, but have we dropped our anchor in the depths of this promise? The founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson, often prayed in tears while he caressed a globe. This might seem odd or laughable to some, but tepid, formal, faithless prayer will never move the hand of God. Websites such as Operation World and the Window International Network can guide you in praying for the nations.
Light can’t be hidden. Its nature is to penetrate darkness, scatter gloom. We can push back the darkness in many ways. Third World mission trips. Signing petitions and contacting our representatives on behalf of persecuted believers. Supporting relief ministries such as UMCOR and Operation Christmas Child, which recently delivered gifts to displaced Kurdish children. Let us not forget what Jesus said about us: we are the light of the world, a city on a hill that can’t be hidden (Matt 5:14).
PEACE BEGINS WITH … ME
So the song goes. But you couldn’t tell it by some of the social media posts I’ve seen by Christians. Posts blazing with hatred of our enemies, calls for violence, glee over torture of terrorists. It’s easy to hate. Believe me, I know. When I read about the raping of women, beheading of children and kidnapping of innocent schoolgirls, my blood boils. My flesh craves revenge. But then the words of Jesus come back, pricking my heart and conscience: “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…” (Matt 5:43-45).
I have never been a total pacifist. I would push back if my family was threatened and I’m grateful for our military that fights evil forces that could overrun our freedom. I feel these measures are sometimes needed in a broken, sinful world–but my deepest heart tells me that violence isn’t the best way. I don’t take sadistic pleasure in the destruction of anyone, including our enemies.
I don’t think Jesus does, either. Let’s think carefully about the words and attitude He would endorse.
Candle picture courtesy of greyman via stockxchng