Oh, God…here we go again.
You’ve heard the news. A spate of coordinated terrorist attacks has rocked Paris, striking at what seem to be carefully chosen, well-populated targets. ISIS has claimed responsibility, promising further violence. Well over 100 people of a variety of nationalities have been declared dead, some the victims of suicide bombers, some shot in the back at a concert hall while fleeing in terror.
In official response, leaders use the language of justice, in which there will be retaliation without mercy. Lex talionis. Eye for eye, life for life.
When will it all end?
To me, it feels almost eerie. In the previous post, reflecting on Jesus’ Beatitudes and Paul’s notion of godly sorrow, I wrote these words:
Those who truly mourn, who humbly grieve their own sin and the brokenness of the world, will hunger and thirst for righteousness. Put differently, they will long to see God make things right, to see “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV).
That was before the news broke. And now, as I write this post, having watched the reports, I feel the weight of a deep, dark sadness.
I mourn for the fallen, who went out for the evening expecting only to enjoy a concert, or a soccer game, or a nice meal with friends.
I mourn for the survivors, who will now have to pick their way through the traumatic aftermath.
But I also mourn for those who have somehow come to believe a terrible, terrible lie: that what will give their lives meaning is the perpetration of violence.
Jesus taught that in the kingdom of heaven, people mourn sin and long for God to make things right (Matt 5:4,6). But self-righteous retaliation is not the same as hungering for God’s justice. Rather, those who follow Jesus are called to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9). In other words, we must learn to imagine what shalom or wholeness looks like through God’s eyes and work for that kind of peace in what we say and do.
Pray for peace, God’s peace: in Paris, around the globe, and through all of creation — including in our own minds and hearts.
Loving Father and Almighty Lord, our world sometimes feels like it’s flying apart. Please make things right. Please. And though it’s harder to say this, I know that you want my own heart to be right, too. So make of me a peacemaker; give me the heart of one who desires your peace above all. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.