Bonjour, Rob here.
We were all horrified to hear of the terrorist attacks in Paris this past week. It was senseless, merciless killing as recent attacks in Beirut and Baghdad were also. We can’t imagine being at a concert or a restaurant
and experiencing that level of terror. And how dare these extremists do it in the name of God! John 10:10 says:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Do you see the contrast? Jesus follows up that statement by saying in verse 11:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In a world full of evil empires and oppressive Caesars, the Bible tells us that when God came to earth in the flesh he didn’t come to kill but to die.
In a world of terror how do we allow ourselves not to be terrorised? How can we live by faith and resist fear? I see the starting point at the cross of Christ. In the book of Colossians Paul makes two claims for the cross. The first is that through the cross there is peace:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20)
The essential claim here is that no more blood has to be shed. Of course, it’s the end to appeasing the gods through animal sacrifice is partly what Paul has in mind, but there’s also an echo of Isaiah 11:6-9.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
The path to peace is not found through war. It is found when human beings realise that no more blood has to be shed because the cross has brought us to God. We may need to fight ISIS but that fight will not bring peace. Only the cross can achieve that.
The second aspect of the cross that Paul talks about is the triumph of the cross.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:13-15)
The enemy, we are told, seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He seeks to accuse, to shame, to lie and to condemn. The cross defeats the enemy because we can no longer be destroyed, condemned, guilty or ashamed. We are alive with Christ, free with Christ and holy with Christ. He has done that through the cross. The enemy’s ammunition has turned to blanks when we find ourselves in the cross of Christ. He paid the price, he died the death and he shed his blood. He took everything that the enemy could throw at us, absorbed it, dealt with it, crushed it and condemned it when he rose gloriously from the dead. He has died our death and now brings us into his life.
Groups like ISIS act as an extension of Satan’s fury at Christ’s triumph. His defeat is sure but there is pain from his actions along the way. In the midst of the world’s pain and brokenness Christ keeps inviting us back to his cross. There we find reconciliation and peace; there we find freedom and victory. Remember Christ always has the final say.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
May God’s peace be yours this week. Mourn with those who mourn and love with Christ’s love.