More bombings, more terror, more shootings. We hear candidates for office give speeches that focus on fear of others and how dangerous the world is. We hear how we need a strong leader who can defend us, protect us, save us. We are supposed to be united in our fear. We are supposed to stand behind politicians who would like nothing better than for the masses to rely on them, hand over our freedoms to them, and to tell the public what to do, what to say, and what to think.
We Christians claim to have faith in God, yet we listen so intently and believe with unquestionable faith the words of these would-be “leaders.” Excuse me if I call that what it is – idolatry.
And in covering the horrific events and by sharing posts about what is reported, do we think about what we are actually doing? Are we assisting in distributing a message of fear – the message of those who commit the violence? Have we become enablers of their false gospel message – that everyone should fear them. Do we assist in spreading a message of those who seek attention and want to impose their narrative on the rest of the world?
I wonder what it would look like if we changed how we covered such violence. What if we spent very little time focused on the perpetrator, on who is responsible, and spending endless hours trying to figure out the motivation.
Why do we give so much attention and publicity to those who spread fear, division, hatred, and commit violence?
What if instead we did something completely different? What if we focused on the victims of these horrors instead? What if we showed their faces, talked about the victims, their lives, who they were, what they believed?
What if we started calling the victims what they truly are – martyrs. Is that a stretch? They were killed for who they are, what they stand for, what belief system they were associated with. They are martyrs.
We should be careful how we report the news. Who do we give credibility to? Whose narrative are we advancing? Are we just reporting the facts, or by moving to speculation, are we just giving unneeded attention to those who would commit violence and terror and advance a message of fear?
Today is a day to mourn the martyrs – the martyrs of Kabal, the martyrs of Munich, the Martyrs of Nice, the martyrs of Orlando, the martyrs of San Bernidino, the martyrs of all shootings and attacks to come. Focus on the martyrs – stop giving perpetrators attention and credibility. Stop giving them credit and worrying about who takes the credit for spreading fear. Stop analyzing and spinning. Stop the madness in the name of being informed – as if we all need to know every single detail and all the theories. We don’t. What we need to do is be there for the victims and their families.
Here is something we can all do – focus on the martyrs and pray for those who would commit violence, terror, promote fear and division, and seek blood.
We pray for the victims, but what about the perpetrators? What about those whose beliefs are so warped? Can we bring ourselves to pray for those who want to kill us? Can we be so bold? Can we be so risky? Can we test our faith in such a way?
Or would we rather pray a prayer that seeks revenge or, dare I say it, death to our enemies. Only we would call it defeat – that’s much a more sanitary use of language isn’t it? It covers our real intent.
When we pray for peace, can we really then turn around and speak and post words of revenge, defeat of enemies, and justified violence? Do we really believe the prayer? Do we really take in and live out the words we pray when we speak this way? Do we really believe that God can do this? Or are we just mouthing the words with empty faith?
When we pray for forgiveness, can we really then turn around and speak and post words of judgement on our enemies, our political opponents, and anyone we disagree with? Do we really believe the prayer? Do we live it out? We we honestly believe that God is capable of such a thing? Or are we just saying the things we think we are supposed to say?
When we pray for our enemies, what we do pray for? And do we honestly believe it?
I’m asking you to do something bold right now with me. I’m asking you to put your faith where you mouth is. I’m asking you to do something that may feel impossible. I’m asking you to pray for the martyrs and the perpetrators of violence. If you want to be really bold and take a risk, then copy the prayer and post it on social media and ask others to pray it with you and to share it.
Please pray with me: Holy God, today we pray for the families of victims of violence and terror – they are modern day martyrs. They died for who they were, what they stood for, and what they believed. Many died not knowing why. We ask that you be with the families and friends – be with them in this time of pain and sorrow. We know you weep with them. Help them to feel your presence.
God of peace, we also pray for those who condone violence, are committed to death and fear, and those who perpetuate these things in the world – maybe even in your name. We ask for a change of heart. Break down the walls around their hearts and minds. Soften their hearts Lord. Help them to see you, to see your face in the face of these martyrs. Change them and their ways Lord. Let them experience love, forgiveness, mercy, and peace so that they would start to live these things.
Help us to break the cycle of violence in not seeking revenge or retribution, but in offering peace and forgiveness – even to those who have wronged us and to those who hate us. That’s a tall order Lord, but we know only you can make that happen in us and in those who are different from us. We believe that this change can happen Lord – we truly believe it. Help us to be peacemakers, as costly as it is, being the ones who take the first step. We pray for the impossible Lord, knowing that you are in the business of making the impossible not just possible, but reality. We pray this in the name of the one known as the Prince of Peace. Amen.