This past weekend we were once again reminded that the enemy is alive and using evil to bring about fear, pain and hatred. Human instinct tells us we should fight back and that we are right to feel that way. But reality is that the only difference between us and them is God’s grace.
My heart aches for those who lost loved ones in the horrific attacks in Paris. I am praying for those impacted by the attacks, for both physical and emotional healing. However, what may surprise you is I am also praying for those behind the attacks. This is certainly not popular opinion and may be frowned upon by most. But consider Matthew 5:43-44 where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Our brothers and sisters, who face the attacks of the evil one on a regular basis, challenge us to pray that their persecutors will also become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Every time I share this, the room grows quiet. I myself have a hard time wrapping my head around this; but when I look at Scripture, I know they are right.
Remember that the Apostle Paul was also a terrorist. Luke recorded in Acts, “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison…Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (8:3, 9:1). Paul was a terrorist until he met the Lord, and because of this the history of the Church was forever changed.
Paul himself challenged how we view the wrongs done to us and what our response should be in Romans. He wrote, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay’ says the Lord” (12:19).
So, when we hear about the latest attacks by ISIS, an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria, al Qaeda, or whatever other group the enemy uses – while we should continue to bring comfort to those affected – our response should be to drop to our knees and pray. We should pray that those behind the attacks will have an encounter with Christ that will change not only their lives but the life of the Church.
Will you begin to pray for terrorists?