What sad news from Boston yesterday. My heart and prayers are with the victims of the terrorist attack. I will never be able to wrap my mind around how anyone would think that in order to support their religion, they need to attack innocent people. Though I'm enough of a pragmatist to understand how our nation justifies going to war in some cases, the idealist in me struggles with how violence is ever really the answer. It seldom brings any of us to our enemies' cause, and in response, it seldom helps our enemies to become our friends.
As of the time I'm writing this, not much is known about who committed this crime. Typically, when something like this happens, people will ramp up their war-time rhetoric. "Whoever did this, we will find them, and we'll do to them what they did to us." And of course, government is there to carry the sword, and to be a terror on those who do evil (Romans 13:3-4). But earthly governments will always be inferior to the Kingdom of God because they are largely dependent upon coercion to remain in power. When one strikes, another strikes back in return. Lives are lost. Innocents die on either side. People abuse their power. Hatred continues.
Recently I've become quite fond of the abundance of Youtube videos that feature Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. He grew up in India, and has insights about the value and truth of Christianity that few people would be capable of perceiving. I heard him tell a story the other day about a meeting he had with a Muslim leader of a Palestinian(?) group. He was pleading with him to seek peace. This man was hardened by war, and had even lost one of his sons, whom had been murdered by his enemies.
Ravi made a point to the man that I think carries a lot of importance at a time like this. Before he left the meeting, he told the man, "I believe that God gave his only son to die for the sins of the world. And until we are willing to accept the sacrifice of his son as sufficient for our needs, we will continue to sacrifice our own children on the altars of our gods." (This is my paraphrase from memory.) Keep in mind, he was saying this to a man who had in fact given his son in the cause for which he was fighting.
The only real solution to war, suffering, and hatred continues to be Jesus Christ. Until we embrace this, we will continue to give up what is precious to us to further lesser solutions. God sent Jesus to reconcile his creation to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). Once acts of terror and murder have been committed, they can be punished, but they cannot be undone. As Christians, we must respond with compassion, and with an unwavering commitment to speaking the truth on behalf of the voiceless. Acts of terror are unjustified, but bloodlust is not a better response. Christ is the only one who can reconcile all of the problems in the world. By accepting his Lordship and joining his mission to draw all men to himself, we do the best we can do to usher in a better world.
Whoever did this should be brought to justice. Let's be prayerful for the families involved. Let's be prayerful for our representatives who will decide what happens next. But in loving justice, let us also learn to love our enemies, and to pray for those who are so misled that they would think that violent acts of terror are a constructive means to their desired end. Don't forget that before he was the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus was known and feared as a murderer of Christians. In Christ, there is always hope and redemption. I pray that the families experience healing, and I pray that whoever did this, their sins will find them out. But in this process, my hope is that they will come to know Christ, and will find a better cause to which they can dedicate their life.