With the news of suicide bombings we may just wonder how to respond to terrorism. Here are some ideas:
1. Pray. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a good one.
2. Understand. To some, Western activity in the Middle East does look like a crusade. It can look like the “Christian” West is bombing and often occupying the Muslim Middle East. In our minds, Western secular and multicultural societies are targeting terror networks with precision strikes helping protect, not just the world, but Muslims also from certain other Muslims. In the terrorists’ minds true Muslims are being killed by Christians allied with “fake” Muslims.
3. Remember how Islam began. At its beginning Islam was not just a personal religious thing, it was also a tribal political thing. There are those who point out that young Muslims are radicalized when their lives in Western democracies seem pretty bleak, so if we can just make their lives better the terrorism problem will go away. While that may help, young Muslims are also being radicalized because there exists a version of Islam to be radicalized to, a very political version, with strong claims to being closest to the original. Muhammad was a political and military leader in stark contrast to Jesus, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NIV).
4. Read the Bible. Learning, as we wonder at creation, that all people are created in the image of God and therefore are worthy of dignity and respect. Learning, as we travel in a fish with Jonah, that we are to be ready to join God in reaching out to those we may consider enemies. Learning, as we walk with Jesus, that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. Learning, along with Stephen the first martyr, that we are to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Learning, along with the apostles, that we are to share the Good News of what God has done in Christ with everyone. Yes, this means sharing with the Muslim that no expression of Islam, whether peaceful of full of terror, could ever do what Jesus did for us at the cross. The cause of Christ is worth being radicalized to.
5. Recognize the valid and important role of those who provide for our security. Loving your neighbour is not inconsistent with providing security to your loved ones when your neighbour threatens. We depend on our police forces to serve and protect us locally. We depend on our military to do likewise globally. There is little doubt that we are at war requiring a military response. However, our wisdom in deploying the military needs to exceed the might of our military more than ever.
6. Keep Praying. The victims of terror need it. World leaders responsible for our collective response need it. We need it. And the people who want to terrorize us need it too.