|Paris shootings - the day after.|
At first, it took me back to the awful scene of the homecoming parade in Stillwater a few weeks ago when so many lives were crushed right before my eyes.
It then took me back to 9/11 in seeing the images unfold as a nation stayed glued to the television for days on end as we sought to understand what had happened.
Then I remembered the scenes from the Oklahoma City bombing that impacted so many lives.
Tragedy has always been a part of life. It is not that we have a greater capacity for violence but that our technology allows us to inflict harm upon such large masses of people all at once.
Before the attacks in Paris, our country was receiving refugees from Syria that were trying to flee the awful violence going on there. Our capacity for compassion at this point was understandable. I've watched stories of the persecution not only of Muslims but of Christians as well. As a father, I can put myself in their shoes.
These stories give us a larger capacity for compassion if not love.
Now that we have seen the horror inflicted upon Paris, we become uneasy about a repeat performance closer to home. We hear things like the brother of two of the terrorists had no clue that they were planning this. He said that terrorists blend in with others and give off nothing that would alert anyone to their plans or activities.
The mystery surrounding their identity is a chief weapon of terrorism: fear.
The fear is legitimate in that we may not know who we should be watching. It makes us paranoid and those of Middle Eastern descent in our country become question marks in the eyes of many. How well do we really know them?
This line of thinking is very different from when Jesus said, "If you welcome a stranger, you welcome me."
He said this in a day when there was plenty of violence. He said this when his own country was under foreign occupation. He said this when people were afraid for their own safety and the safety of their families.
Acts of terror try to increase our capacity for fear. Fear is a powerful weapon. When I am afraid, I set my trust aside. When I am afraid, I set my compassion aside.
This Sunday, we will celebrate the Reign of Christ. What does that mean in a world torn asunder? Is it still legitimate? I believe that it is.
I believe that my faith helps me to conquer my fears. This doesn't mean that we don't take necessary precautions. It just means that my perspective is not ruled by fear - which is sometimes easier said than done!
We'll join together in worship and prayer. We'll pray for our allies in France who are suffering. We'll pray for our soldiers who are put in harms way. We'll pray for the innocent families trying to flee a war-torn area. We'll even listen to our Lord and pray for our enemies which is harder than anything else we do.
Because the Reign of Christ is real. It becomes all the more tangible when we live it out.
The Reign of Christ increases my capacity for love.
In the end, this is more powerful than any act of terrorism.
Photo by Maya-Anaïs Yataghène from Paris, France (Paris Shootings : The day after) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons