A picture sent to me from downtown Brussels, Belgium after the bombings on March 22, 2016. Photo by Sverker Blyth.

A picture sent to me from downtown Brussels, Belgium after the bombings on March 22, 2016. Photo by Sverker Blyth.

A Christian Response to the Brussels Bombing: The Beginnings of a Christian Response to Global Terrorism

I am loathsome to be a government official in Brussels today. My heart is heavy for them, as what options could’ve prevented yesterday’s bombing? What more could I possibly do if I’m in office at the Grand Place? Surely the circumstances demand a greater response from me and my peers; but what is it? These questions, and a myriad more, are being asked internally and externally, and I’d be heavy hearted in every possible way.

I tend to believe that the human race is intelligent collectively, and does have everyone’s best interest in mind in the best of circumstances. Yet, in moments of crisis, we can not rely on new systems to secure us, only those which we’ve already instituted, hoping they work.

What more can a society do to prevent mass attacks?

There is only so much that technology and manpower can do. In the face of violent attacks attempted against innocent life, it is up to sober-minded government leaders to do their best with what they have in the time they have to do it in. But this will never and can never be an all-sufficient method of bringing the shalom of God to the world.

The superior course of action is the responsibility of those who have insight into the redeeming methods native to the kingdom of God. Yes, I am loathsome to be a government man in these days, and I admire and support all those who are called, but my heart leaps to be a churchman. For here, I can spend my days actively pressing into the mark of Gods high call on my life: to bring his peace “which passes understanding” into the storms of people’s lives. Collectively, I believe that the world will be transformed, that systems will be healed as much as people, until “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and King.”

What is the world’s response to terrorism?

While I cannot speak for governments, though I am committed to and responsible for them operating with increasing integrity, I can speak for Christians. The Christian response must be one that leans into the opportunity of bringing the Good News of Jesus to broken people. But not as some fix-all soterian prescription that can be doled out by paper tracts. We need Christians, now more than ever, who are mature and fit for weathering life’s tragedies with the resolve of heavenly minded citizens. It is not a day to complain about the weather, about appliances breaking down, or relationships falling apart. Today must be a day that we value lost, perishing souls as an insufferable debt that we must redeem.

Today is a day that we do not wait for governments to offer solutions to responsibilities that are uniquely our own as Christians. We can no longer afford to abdicate responsibility to the corridors of legislation which only temporarily secure our peace of mind. We must exercise our evangelical roots in ever moving outward, and not by methods of invasion or intrusion, but through invitation, through actually being the greatest force for good and love on the planet.

Metal detectors, security details, and military efforts have prevented many deaths. But they can not cure the conditions within, nor can they completely deter the actions without. This is where the Church must continue to rise to her place in serving the world.

For every single act of terror, there are 100 acts of sacrificial love and kindness. The goal is not to shame our enemy, but to shame and expose evil conduct, both the violence of our enemy, and the violence within ourselves. Is the bomber with his finger on the trigger lamenting the 100 Christians who made his family dinner more than he is seething against the ideologies that stain his Qur’an? Perhaps the former would do much to relieve the later.

I am not a government official, merely a churchman, but in this case, I believe that it is the Church that has the primary role in bringing the shalom of God to the nations. Let the government do what it is able to in so far as it has a responsibility to protect and defend human life. But even its best and most valiant efforts are inferior when compared to the supreme call of bringing God’s transformational kingdom way of living to the world.

Becoming lost in the minutia of politics, order, laws, even religious ideologies and collateral government atrocities, are all distractions from the supreme point: only Christians acting like King Jesus will ever accomplish what governments can dream of.

We must practice in the house of God what we need to export to the nations. We must get love for enemies right in the house first if we are ever to be expected to have traction in lands and cultures that are foreign to us. We must aggressively fight to dismiss the distractions of the enemy that would seek to get us wrapped up and engaged in superficial debate, and instead, plunge ahead into the depths of God which require us to be loving toward those who need it most: our enemies.


whiskeysierra · 23 Mar ’16 at 12:36 pm

Christopher, There is an undeniable, viscous and diabolical genocide going on in the Levant. Christians are being sadistically tortured and executed in the most inhumane ways on a grand scale. Entire villages are being exterminated. The barbaric animals that are perpetrating these atrocities are infiltrating our culture in order to do even more deadly harm to the innocent among us. How is the Church going to stop this? Missionaries, medicines, blankets and food helps the suffering and demonstrates the love and empathy of us Christians, but that is all blown to Hell in an instant by these savages who wish only to kill and control through barbarity. So?

    Christopher Hopper · 23 Mar ’16 at 2:04 pm

    As I wrote regarding government response:

    “In the face of violent attacks attempted against innocent life, it is up to sober-minded government leaders to do their best with what they have in the time they have to do it in.”


    “Let the government do what it is able to in so far as it has a responsibility to protect and defend human life.”

    The entire context of my post, however, was to highlight the needed Christian response. So if you’re willing to engage in healthy dialog, and refrain from calling people that Jesus died for “these savages,” I’d love to hear your thoughts on ways we can bring the Gospel to them.

      whiskeysierra · 24 Mar ’16 at 1:00 pm

      Chris, I was hoping you had some concrete ideas on how to reach them. I have a collection of videos in my intelligence folder of the individuals in question. These videos include one that is the barbaric execution of over 200 Christian boys, captured, disrobed, lined up and machine gunned multiple times, point blank, to the loud jubilant chants of “alahu achbar” of the grinning executioners. That’s one of the less intense ones. In my business, that more than qualifies these perpetrators as savages, even though Jesus died for the sins of all of us.

Ryan Paige Howard · 23 Mar ’16 at 6:01 pm

Out of curiosity have you seen a film called, Sheep Among Wolves? It’s about the persecuted church in the Islamic world. I HIGHLY recommend it, but only for mature Christians, because it’s really heavy and at times a bit graphic.

I think you would really appreciate it! And thank you for sharing. There is a trailer before the film that I haven’t watched yet, but it looks good.
Have a blessed day and keep shining for Him!

    Christopher Hopper · 24 Mar ’16 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Ryan. May you continue to be a shining light and source of hope in the world that you touch.

CRMooney · 12 Apr ’16 at 8:50 am

I know I’m late to the post, but wanted to share this.
Thank you for challenging me. It is the easy response to say, “Wipe them out.” But I find that the easy response is rarely the pth we, as Christians, are to take. Romans 12 comes to mind. I know I am skipping some verses here, but I think the spirit of the text remains:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will… [that] Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear 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.”

This, it is the simple answer, not the easy. But Jesus has never required the easy, He requires us to give what he gave: our life. To “lay it down.” I believe you have laid out, quite well, a plan that agrees with Paul’s text. If we want to change the world, we must change our thinking. We must read God’s words, and where they challenge us, rise to the challenge.

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