This morning, my wife received a call from a family member who said “did you hear about the medical workers who were killed in Afghanistan?” We had not, so I got on my computer to look up the news.
Sure enough breaking news:
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Gunmen in the remote northeastern region of Afghanistan shot and killed 10 members of a medical team, police said Saturday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred Thursday.
Among the dead were six Americans, two Afghans, a Briton, and a German, said Dirk Frans, director of International Assistance Mission. He said two other Afghans on the team are alive.
The gunmen stopped the victims on a road, took their belongings and shot them one by one, said Aqa Nwor Kentoz, police chief of northern Badakhshan province.
This story hits close to home; that could have been us. Last summer my wife and I joined about a dozen other American medical workers to provide medical care to those in need in Afghanistan. It was an amazing time, and we can’t wait for an opportunity to go back.
I’m sure everyone’s initial reaction is to pray for the family of the victims. They should be honored as heroes, killed while serving others in the name of Jesus. But where do we go from there? I think there are 3 reactions that we can have to this story, 2 unbiblical and 1 biblical, let’s look at each and see which is which.
We could call on our government to strike back, hunt down those responsible and kill them. We could justify it in many ways: They need to be brought to justice; we need to show them that they can’t do that to Americans, we must prevent them from doing it again. All often used, understandable, yet unbiblical justifications for an unbiblical response to evil.
Second: Fear and Avoidance.
The family member who called us and told us this news reacted exactly how most of us would react, “I hope you know that this means you will never go there again”. This reaction is completely understandable, and I don’t fault this person for their reaction at all, but it is no less unbiblical than the first reaction.
Remember shortly after 9/11 we heard many people advocating different things saying, “If we do or don’t (fill in the blank), then the terrorists will have won.” Well if this event, this act of evil, deters good people from doing good things in a region that obviously needs it, then those who have committed this evil act get what they want.
Third: Love your enemies.
Clearly this is the biblical response:
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14
When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it. 1 Corinthians 4:12
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21
One of my favorite authors, Carl Medearis wrote a book called Tea with Hezbollah. In it is the story of the trip he and Ted Dekker made all around the Middle East meeting with all our “enemies” such as Hezzbollah, Hamas and the Bin Laudin brothers. He asked each leader “What is the most famous teaching of Jesus?” The usual response: “To love your enemies”. He would then ask, “How is that going for you?” They thought it was a good teaching (as Muslims who believe Jesus was a prophet they can’t really disagree with Jesus), but that it was very impractical in todays world. Sound familiar? That is exactly what most Americans think: yes, Jesus’ teaching to love your enemies is probably a great teaching, but it is not very practical today.
Can you imagine a world, where all those who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus, both Christian and Muslim actually followed this teaching? What a world changing act that would be! We can’t fall into the trap by using the excuse “Well the other guy isn’t doing the right thing, so I don’t have to”. That argument doesn’t work against my mom, why think it will work against God? We must stand up and do the right thing, regardless of what others are doing.
How do we do that? The bible is clear:
Pray: Pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 28
This doesn’t just go for terrorists half way across the world; it goes for the guy who cuts you off, or the person who is mean to you at work. It is difficult to pray for someone you hate, but once you get into the habit, it becomes hard to hate the people you are praying for.
Do good: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:20-21
What should our response be to the murders in Afghanistan? I think it should be an overwhelming movement of followers of Jesus into the region serving in His name. Feeding those who are hungry, giving water to those who are thirsty, and serving those who are in need. I’m still looking forward to an opportunity to return to Afghanistan, to show others the love of Jesus through service.
Can’t go? Take the opportunity to support those who are working in the region.
Highlighted From Comment Section:
Many good comments below, but I must highlight this especially insightful comment (from my mother).
“The precious people who were gunned down in cold blood should remind us of the huge need to spread Christ’s message of grace and mercy. I’m pretty sure God didn’t slap His forehead and say, “Man, I wish I hadn’t sent My kids into harm’s way”. No, I’m very sure He was with them each step of the way, proud of them for obeying His command to share His Word and His love serving those in need.” –Anita Gibson