Paris two weeks ago and this week, San Bernardino. There is no doubt that terror is on the rise, and it is a threat in the United States.
Husband and wife, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, both bent on religious Jihad and with terrorist ties, charged into a conference room filled with many of Syed’s co-workers celebrating Christmas. They were wearing body armor and brandishing military guns. They opened fire, killing fourteen and wounding another seventeen.
The news in recent days has been filled with concerns over religiously motivated terrorism. The country is debating the possible threat from Syrian refugees, while real people are being killed in middle-eastern countries because their beliefs do not line up with their executioners.
But none of this is new.
It’s new to us. Most of us have enjoyed relative security. We’ve been lulled to sleep with our comfort and economic prosperity. But millions of people around the world have been living in terror. It’s an often cited fact that more Christians were put to death for their faith in the last fifty years than the nearly 2,000 previous years of Christianity combined. Terror has been used as an instrument of evil since sin first infiltrated the human race. In fact, it was through a Roman tool of terror that our founder himself was crucified. Crucifixion then, as now, was an instrument of terror.
How do we respond?
We could cower in fear, carry a gun everywhere, be consumed with hatred, or swear ourselves to vengeance.
Or we could live a life of faith, recognizing that the answer is not found in this world’s solutions. We could proclaim the Gospel message with our lives and words and look for the day when Jesus will set everything straight. We can rest on his reminder, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
I’m not saying that we should do nothing. Of course, we should do all we can to squelch evil, right wrongs, pursue justice and promote peace. But for followers of Jesus, we have a Gospel to share and a mission to accomplish: to rescue as many as we can with the promise of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life in Christ. And we have eternity to look forward to. An eternity that will be free of terror, and all other effects of sin, while filled with the captivating delight of living in person with God himself.
We may face the temporal fate that our brothers and sisters around the world have experienced. But if we are ushered into eternity that way, may we bring many with us, never abandoning the expectation and trust that we have in Jesus.