“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” Luke 6:27-29, NLT.
Since the terrorist attacks on Jan. 7 at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, I have spent a lot of time considering how we, as Christians, do, and ought to respond, when the creed and ideals be believe ardently in are challenged in a public forum.
First, I could never stand in support of the magazine’s content, which routinely prints irreverent speech whose stated purpose is to lampoon people for their most cherished beliefs. It is not simply Christians the magazine chooses to target, but each person who dares to believe there is a God who rules over the universe.
That being said, though, as a Christian, responding in vengeance and violence is completely opposed to how we are taught to respond to those who attack and mock what we believe, and the One we have chosen to follow.
Christ Himself forgave His tormenters as they beat, spat on, and mocked Him, and executed Him on a cross. Time and time again, He responded with love and forgiveness to those who would most viciously attack Him, and He has taught His followers through the ages to do the same.
Therefore, I find appalling beyond measure that anyone would choose to respond to offensive speech with hatred, vitriol, and bloodshed. To take lives simply because someone mocks you is not a defense of your position, it is cold-blooded murder, indefensible by any rational, humane moral standard.
You can never quell intolerance with violence – you can only make it worse.
Though I could never in conscience say, “Je Suis Charlie” because I could never condone the messages the magazine promotes, I can say I grieve wholeheartedly with the families who have lost loved ones because of this senseless violence.
I mourn the lives that were needlessly taken in hatred, when love, forgiveness, and discourse could have accomplished so much more. I offer love to those who have endured unimaginable pain and fear because of what was done to their friends and love ones.
I will always stand unabashedly in passionate defense of my belief of a Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, and no doubt expect that such a stance will at times be mocked, lampooned and derided. I expect to face opposition and vitriol for that stance.
But the Savior I stand for stands for love in the face of hatred, peace in the midst of chaos, and forgiveness for the most heinous and unimaginable grievances.
So, when I stand for my Savior, I stand for the love that He carried to the cross to offer me.
And because He offered it to me, who I am if I do not offer that same love to the world in return?
Que le Seigneur sécher vos larmes et guérir votre douleur, Charlie.
May the Lord dry your tears and heal your pain.
Daniel Kiewel is a youth sponsor with CrossPoint Church in Great Bend, and maintains a faith-based blog at www.breakthetape312.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.