There is evil in the world.
There are daily reminders.
Before the wounded in Paris were all transported to hospitals, good, thoughtful Christians had questions of faith.
“The more news that comes out about the attacks in Paris, the more anger and despair I’m feeling. I know I need to be praying right now, but honestly some of that anger is blame directed straight at God. I know free will exists, but at the same time I’m angry that He did not stop this horror from taking place. I don’t know how to pray through something like this. How do I pray to God when I’m so angry at Him?”
“Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
Someone asked how we pray for people who are so difficult to pray for – namely the perpetrators of the Nov. 13 attacks.
We pray to change ourselves.
By praying for others, we humanize them in a way they often refuse to humanize their victims.
We pray for those who do evil, to help stop us from responding with evil.
The response to death can not be more death.
The response to violence is not more violence.
The response to loss can’t be to take from others.
The response to anger isn’t anger.
Evil in the world is evil of the world.
Evil is not of God.
What happened in Paris — just like what happened on 9/11, just like what happens in markets when a car bomb explodes, or a suicide bomber murders indiscriminately — is not of God.
Responding to evil with death, violence, or anger isn’t of God. These are responses of the world. And worldly, violent responses simply lead to more violent responses.
Responding to evil with evil is evil.
A presidential candidate who claims to seek guidance in prayer and in scripture believes the answer to violence is increased bombing and less concern for civilian casualties, in short, responding to random killing with more random killing.
Scripture says “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
But we can surrender to darkness. We can leave the light and love of God, and move into the shadows, where evil lurks.
We can respond to the world in a worldly way, or in a Godly way. It’s a simple choice. A simple choice that often must be made many times a day. A simple choice that is made difficult when the streets run with blood.
But more blood isn’t the answer.
“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another…” – Robert Kennedy, April 4, 1968
In the words of Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
The Christ-like response to murder, death, and violence is the loving, peaceful, and nonviolent example of Christ.
Anything less is evil.