What is the Christian response to acts of terrorism? In short, love. This is the most paradoxical thing. Yet we cannot fight fire with fire.
We are told to love our enemies.
Matthew 5:43-48 43 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. 46 For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? 48 Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We are told to overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:14 14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not.
Romans 12:17-21 17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. 19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. 20 But]if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
We are told to turn the other cheek.
Matthew 5:38-42 38 Ye have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
We are told to love our neighbors (which is everybody).
Mark 12:28-31 28 And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29 Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 31 The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
When we don’t know what to do or say in a difficult situation, we are told to pray for the right words, and advised that the Holy Spirit will give them to us. We are warned that it isn’t easy to be a follower of Jesus.
Matthew 10:16-22 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you; 18 yea and before governors and kings shall ye be brought for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. 21 And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child: and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
These are hard things to do, especially in a world that seeks retaliation and revenge. We are called to be a fixing to the evil of the world. We are called to be the cure to the disease of sin and hate and separation. We are called to build bridges, not walls. We are called to love. If loving your enemy is hard, remember to invite Jesus into it. Ask him to be with you in that feeling, to help you understand what you are feeling, to help transform it into love.
(All verses are from the American Standard Version translation of the Bible.)