In light of yesterday’s terrorist attack on a church in France where a priest was killed in the most horrific way; some believers may be gripped by fear, others are angry, while some may be wondering what the Christian response should be.
Fear and intimidation has always been one of the weapons the devil has used against God’s people. We see it used in the Old Testament against the true prophets of God, and in the New Testament against the Apostles and the Christians. Fear says, you must conform or submit to my rule or else you will face pain, suffering or death. The righteous form of fear is intertwined with love leading to a willing submission (by choice) through one’s conviction of a true Higher Power (God). On the other hand, fear from the devil leads to an unwilling submission through threats and violence, ultimately robbing one off their freedom and happiness while promoting evil and deception.
How should we respond to this? Some have a very passive approach to these things, believing that inaction is the best form of action. But can doing nothing produce something? Will it not encourage or empower the hand of evil to spread? Others have thought of using violence as a way of defending the truth and defeating evil. But are there any biblical grounds for this in the New Testament? Some also feel it is a call to show more love, often expressed in an undiscerning way that may appear counterproductive or naively oblivious to a threat that faces all of us.
Brothers and sisters, this fear can only be defeated in light of God’s grace and love for us. This fear becomes insignificant, once we can see the eternal perspective of our glorious end. In light of this truth, the Apostle said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” He goes further to say; “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-38).
When faced with such fear and intimidation, our response should be like the Apostles and the early church. We must be prayerful, steadfast and unyielding to this fear. We must be of one voice that speak up for our rights and freedom in love and not violence. But if persecution knocks on our door, let us see it as our call home to glory; for Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). But for now, give no room for fear to rob you off your joy and happiness in Christ. Be thankful for life and celebrate the grace of God that has given you the privilege and identity that terrorism or death cannot take from you. You are blessed and highly favoured. Be encouraged!