It is easy for those of us who live in Columbia, Missouri in the middle of the United States to see terrorist attacks from abroad as nothing to do with us. We catch the headlines, look upon it with some curiosity, and then get on with life. But is there a better response than, ‘There goes another terror attack?’
This past week we heard of yet another attack; this one in Manchester, England at a large venue, where pop singer Ariana Grande had just finished a concert. Twenty-two are dead and scores were injured. Many of the concertgoers were young kids. The intent of terrorism is to strike terror into the hearts of people, to make them have an existential fear, to make them feel no place is off-limits to these kinds of attack. At the same time, the rapidness by which we receive our news – and the news of the latest terrorist attack – can make us become immune, numb, or indifferent to the tragedy.
Terrorism is evil. Though it is clothed in radical views of Islam in our day (or in other radical ideologies – the KKK, or White Supremacists), though it is clothed in cultural political rhetoric, the act of killing people in public settings is evil un-tethered. Hitler in his day held Germany in sway by an exalted view of their superiority. He brainwashed the youth into believing in a superior man, culture, and society, free of Jews, Gypsies, Intellectuals, disabled and other “non-acceptable” human beings. The country was both brainwashed and terrorized.
Evil must always be defeated. It cannot be reasoned with. Its very nature is malign. One author addressing evil said this,
“Evil is a vast excrescence, a monstrous contradiction that cannot be explained but can only be denounced and resisted wherever it appears…evil implies a different universe, controlled by extra-human forces.”
Evil suggests a mysterious force that may be in business for itself, its very existence is to undo God. Evil is the absence of good, a vacuum of goodness. There is no rationale for it; indeed it savors irrationality because evil makes us ask, ‘Why for which there is never a satisfactory answer?’
I remember when there was a rash of airplane hijackings in the ‘80’s. These were occurring almost weekly. Most had political or monetary demands, and the occupants were returned unharmed if the demands were met. It took quite a while for law enforcement to figure out how to stop hijackings as an almost common occurrence. Security was put in place where none existed before. Today we are all accustomed to the lengths of security for boarding an airplane. We complain, but we prefer that sense of safety over convenience. In time public venues will and must become more secure. This will not end evil, but it is the necessary sign of resisting it.
So, is there a Christian response when we hear of terrorist attacks? I think the answer is yes, and it is found in our understanding of being called to be priests in the earth. (Listen to the podcast “A Kingdom of Priests”)
The beginning of resistance to evil is not to explain it, but to see – seeing evil for what it is, seeing evil as not a part of God’s good plan.
Respond with compassion not with indifference.
Indifference is no trait in God’s eternal kingdom.
Resist it rather than accept it.
While evil will go from bad to worse, while it will continue to rear its ugly head, while it will retreat for a season, it will not be gone until the end of the Age. We should never accept it; we should always resist it.
We must resist any explanation that implies someone deserves what she got.
The children attending this concert did not deserve to die. No one deserves to have evil unleashed upon themselves.
Support and pray for those in authority who Paul says are appointed by God for good.
‘For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil’ Romans 13:3. God has ordained authorities to keep evil in check. Paul even adds this is why we pay taxes.
Build relationships beyond the boundaries of our own kind.
Jesus invaded this earth in His Incarnation. He invaded an enemy territory. He went about doing good to all wherever and however He could. He said the kingdom of God has come in His being. He pushed back the forces of darkness, even knowing that He would in time come under them for redemptive purposes. In the end, good will prevail, but it comes at a cost. Jesus’ death was costly. Our struggle against evil is always costly, but it is good.