Paris and the One Thing ISIS and I Agree On


It was reported by CNN when the gunmen stormed into the Bataclan Music Hall in Paris, they were shouting “Allah akbar.”

God is great.

And He certainly is. Although we are not speaking of the same God, this is the one and only thing I can agree on with ISIS.

Lately I’ve been camping in a story about Syria. Not the ones of late but one of long ago in 2 Kings 6. The story is part of the great story of God that continues with Syria, Israel, and us today.

On this mourning after, we might be waking up numb because these news headlines seem to be coming one after another. Or we may have woken up with a significant measure of fear. Or outrage.


In the story in 2 Kings a young assistant runs to his master, Elisha when he sees the attackers of his day, great in number, with an artillery of horses and chariots encamped around this city.

“What shall we do?”

Isn’t that often our response on days like today? When we see babies washed up on beaches. When we see people in crowded city streets clinging to each other.

Elisha answered him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Then, Elisha prayed for his fearful young assistant and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”

The LORD immediately answered this prayer and opened the eyes of the young man, it says.

“He saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

All along there were these angelic armies that outnumbered those who were coming against them. They were there the whole time but they were invisible to Elisha’s servant until the LORD lifted his eyes to see them.

God never vacates His throne and He never turns His face from those He loves. There is great power in our prayers as we pray against terror, as we pray for protection and peace.

I woke up this morning praying for Paris, praying for Syria, praying for Israel, praying for us to have eyes to see what God is up to, but I was also deeply compelled to pray for ISIS.

I believe we are living in a time when the Church is waking up. The upside of the information age is that we can’t look away at the evil and destruction that is happening in all parts of the world. Rather than be paralyzed by fear or numbed by headlines, we need to be moved by our grief, moved by our rage, moved by our doubts because regardless of what we think and fear God is on the move. We who are part of the subversive Kingdom of God are called to arise and walk in love. We are to walk in love because it is written that this is the best use of our time as the days are evil. {Ephesians 5:16} Walking in love is not exclusive from walking in justice, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Love was poured out in the form of all of that on the cross where Jesus died. The answer to “what shall we do?” is informed by what we know, what we have seen and what we believe about God.

The thing about those men who stormed into public places firing rifles with explosives strapped to themselves is that they too have been terrorized.

Like the child who grows up bullied, abused, tormented and mentally destroyed by an abuser grows up to abuse his own children, so are the terrorists who are victims to their government’s evil ideologies and have been shaped by their practices. They are often people who want to be accepted, valued and belong to a people group and a cause greater than themselves.

Can’t the same be said for you and I?

Let justice have its way. It needs to have its way. People who walk in love, like imitators of God are marked by grace, mercy and forgiveness. We are people who are courageous because courage is what you need when you are called to do justice and love mercy sometimes in the form of prayer and sometimes with your hands and feet. Courage is what you need when you are people called to pray and walk in love especially when you are praying for a clear enemy.

We go to the root of the problem and we courageously pray towards the root of evil and pain and pray for the restorative and redemptive way of Jesus to have it’s way in our times and nations.

Because God so loved the world.

This Perfect Love casts out the fear we are feeling today. Perfect Love regardless of any circumstances be they the hardship in your life or the devastating things happening around the world is greater than what we see with our own eyes. The story in 2 Kings 6 provides a backdrop to the words of John, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

May the Jehovah Sabaoth, the great LORD of hosts, the LORD of armies be the fuel of every prayer and may He take every thought of yours captive today and move them towards himself.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

2 thoughts on “Paris and the One Thing ISIS and I Agree On

  1. Amy says:

    I was thinking the best way to fight terrorism here and abroad is to be nice to the outcast — to invite the odd duck into the fold. The drive for community and purpose is so strong

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