The very sad massacre of civilians in Paris a few days ago, supposedly by IS, is now up to a death-toll of 129 people and raises several questions. What kind of ideology is this? And how do we respond to it?
Clearly, this is not an one-time incident, but a pattern of religiously motivated horrible violence seen in IS’ heartland in Iraq and Syria, but also very recently in Beirut, Lebanon, and before that in several European capitals. The ideology of IS is not only to kill whoever does not agree to their cause, but also to celebrate the death of their own people as they kill themselves by use of self-detonated bombs they carry on themselves in order to blow up as many innocent civilians as possible. The logic behind this is some kind of Quran-based Jihad, and it has especially gained a following in particular inland areas of Iraq and Syria, breeding on an ideology of hatred and justified violence. Unfortunately, statistics also show a growing support of IS in Palestinian areas, particularly in Gaza.
The new Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull describes ‘the religious tyranny’ that is responsible for the massacre in Paris as “a treath in the name of God, but is truthfully a work of the devil”. And he is right.
The very reason that we need to speak openly about these matters is that we have had our Holocaust in Europe not very long ago. We cannot afford ethnically or religiously based ideologies of extinction, whatever justifications they are based on. And anti-semitism seems now to be on the rise again in Europe, fed by agenda-based media coverage and European governments strangely in lack of fair principal judgement on the issue of Israel.
If you say something like what I just said in a nation like my beloved homeland Norway, you might get strong reactions. Here, coming from a past of strongly supporting the Jewish people around 1948, we have now celebrated our efforts of dividing the land of Israel through the Oslo-agreement, and have officially become increasingly pro-Palestinian, as seen by the example of Jonas Gahr Støre and the Norwegian government in 2007, being the first western nation to recognize the Hamas-led Palestinian government, even to the point of supporting them financially. Hamas, as we know, states explicitly in their charter in article 13: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad”, and to this day they encourage suicide bombers and knife attacks on civilian Jews.
Returning again to the west on another issue. In Norway, like in almost all western nations, we have seen a disguised deadly dynamic on the issue of abortion. On this issue, the national church herself expelled God’s prophet decades ago, who spoke against the killing of thousands of defenseless babies in the name of women’s rights. This is also an ideology of death, where killing of defenseless civilians, claimed to be ‘just cells’, is justified, and it’s ongoing in our land in the name of the law.
Let’s respond to Paris in the opposite spirit: Love.
And so again the bible proves itself right. The apostle Paul writes: “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Paul to the congregation in Ephesus 6,12). There is a temptation that we polarize and label someone ‘evil’, but fail to discern the darkness that has been given space in our own societies and lives. Evil dresses in different kinds of clothes, and you might find the devil sitting down on both sides of the table. Therefore, let’s respond to Paris in the opposite spirit: Love.
The reason that we can respond in truth and love at this hour is that Jesus the Messiah lives and dwells in us who believe by his Spirit of love. Paul says in Colossians 2,9-10: “For in the Messiah all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fulness in the Messiah, who is the Head over every power and authority.” Furthermore, the apostle John explains the truth about who God really is: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in the world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..” (1. John 4,16-18).
And so we have a response to the Paris-massacre. Jesus the Messiah has already, according to Scripture, defeated the devil, and our God is a God of love. If we are filled with him, fear and hatred will not have any room in us. As we know, the Lord Jesus defeated the evil one in the authority and fullness of love. And so will we.
The bible explains how this is possible: “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers (..), has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev 12,10-11). Firstly, we defeat the devil and the darkness by the testimony and faith in Jesus, the son of God. And secondly, the victory is established by the freedom of being even willing to lose our life in love when encountering evil. Then we are free.
As light drives away darkness, so love drives away fear. Not myself, but His love. And so, let’s meditate on the perfect love of our Father in this time. If we recieve His love and are being continually filled by The Spirit of God, living a life in prayer, fear and hatred will have no room in us. But his love will overcome the fear and give us God’s perspective on how to remedy a world in turmoil and hatred: his sacrificial and unconditional love.
This is the perfect time to share God’s love and the message and life of Jesus the Messiah. He is the complete contrary to the claims of power through treaths and violence based on militant Islamic ideologies. And he loves muslims as much as western christians. He himself walked the earth as a Jewish man in the middle east, and gave his life in love for all people groups, to reconcile them to God and to each other in peace, through forgiving their sins. Reconciliation and peace comes only through repentance and forgiveness, as seen in South Africa after apartheid, in our own lives and for the nations.
So how do we respond to the Paris-massacre? And what about the victims of terror in Beirut, and the immense sufferings of muslims and others in Syria by the hands of IS? We respond in sorrow and deep sympathy. And also, we respond in love and truth without fear. Because the victorious and loving Jesus the Messiah is within us.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Let’s recall the words of Paul to the congregation in Thessaloniki (1. Tess 5,16-19): “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus the Messiah. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire..“. And let’s live by Paul’s words in Romans 12,2 summing up the life of our Lord Jesus the Messiah: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.“
That is how we respond to the Paris-massacre.