This week we have all been horrified and grieved by the savage Paris terrorist attacks in which at least 130 people were killed, hundreds more injured and countless others shaken with grief, immeasurable loss and fear. It is time to weep with those who weep, and pray for who lost loved ones, along with those now recovering from debilitating injury and trauma.
When confronted by such evil we do well to cry out to God in prayer and run toward those who suffer in compassion, while also wrestling with difficult questions. What are we to say to this? We who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and seek to live as his followers of Jesus Christ are called to bear witness to Him in the spirit of faith, hope and love, – even toward our enemies – resisting the temptations of fear and vengeance.
To those who are mourning: we weep with you over such shattering loss and grief, and desire to turn with you in prayer to the God of all comfort.
To those who are wounded we pray for your healing.
To government authorities in France, across Europe and globally, to the President, Parliament and the Police, we recognize you have been appointed by God and entrusted with the responsibility to punish the evil doer. We pray you will carry out your responsibilities with justice.
To the French Church and Churches across Europe, we stand ready to partner with you in any way possible in the mission Jesus Christ entrusted to his church.
To those ask, “Where is God in the midst of evil?” we desire to turn with you to gaze upon Jesus Christ, crucified, whom the prophet Isaiah foretold as “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” In the cross of Jesus Christ the Bible teaches that God himself experienced and took to himself the full depths of human (and demonic) violence and evil. He did so to bring about our redemption and restoration. Such divine love and sacrifice calls every one of us to repentance and faith.
To those whose practice of religion demands acts of violence we respectfully ask you, in the name of God and for the sake of humanity to re-examine your faith and reject violence.
To those who identify with Abrahamic faith, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, we ask: Is not the fulfillment of your religion found in the blessing of all the nations of the earth, rather than in violence and destruction? When God called Abram he promised to bless him and declared, “. . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3, NIV)
To those who desire to reject refugees and immigrants for fear of future attacks, we remind ourselves and you of Jesus’ commands that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and bear witness to Jesus Christ. Christ himself was an immigrant refugee as a child. Shall we turn him away? May it never be!
To those who wonder about the nature of God, we point to Jesus Christ, about whom the Gospel of John says, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18, NIV)
To everyone we say, in the words of Scripture: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)
May God himself bless you and keep you.
Rev. David J Pierson
Executive Director, Alongside Ministries International
November 20, 2015