When you read, watch and hear the news about the violence that is taking place in the world today, it is easy to get angry and let it breed hate. But I am repeatedly reminded of Jesus’ exhortations in Matthew 5: 44: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and in Luke 6:28: “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”.
When terrorists resort to beheading and crucifying, you can’t love them. Loving them, however, does not mean passively resigning yourself to your fate as marauding hordes advance to your doorstep. We should loudly decry the violence and atrocities; we should take steps to protect and defend ourselves; we should flee to escape if that’s the only alternative left. But, we must never let them sow hate in our hearts because, then, we become no better than them.
Remember, the “them” here are not well-meaning, reasonable people with a legitimate cause you want to engage with. They are plain terrorists, power-crazy people who will resort to any means — barbarism included — to achieve their ultimate goal not just to set up an Islamic state worldwide but to use it to seize power.
In other words, they are dictated not by the good of their religion but by their powerlessness which fuels their need for power. We need to understand that this is not a religious issue; it is a human issue. It is about powerless people who suddenly found power because they had access to arms, and are now misusing that power.
When we understand their background, it would be easier for us not to spew hate nor counter violence with equal or more aggression. We understand, but we do not need to condone their activities.
I marvel at the magnanimity of the family of the journalist, James Foley, who was beheaded by the IS (Islamic State) as shown in an IS video. They carried themselves with grace despite their grief and loss, referring to the atrocity involving their son as “an evil” they could not understand nor imagine. But, they said no more to vilify the executors of their son and brother.
That is loving our enemy. I must also commend the US government’s measured response to the IS threat which demanded that the US stop its air strikes or more beheadings would follow. The air strikes continue with the US government saying that the limited air strikes were sufficient. That, too, is loving the enemy.
The United States could have pulverized the IS to the ground but it restrained itself. When we love the enemy we do not do the same things they do. We draw the line at wrong-doing, and we try to stop it. Terrorism must stop. In fact, the governments of the world must work in unison to stop terrorism in whatever disguise — religious or otherwise.
Towards that end, we do not encourage nor support terrorism of any kind. We do not engage with terrorists. We do not provide the media attention they thrive on. For these reasons, I did not view the IS video of Foley’s beheading and urge others to do the same — don’t view it. Lastly but not leastly, as I have said before, pray! Pray for the enemy and pray that He will act. It would be good for all!