Faithfully facing terrorism fears

December 1st, 2015

On November 13, eight gunmen and suicide bombers staged coordinated attacks at seven public sites in Paris, killing 130 people and wounding hundreds more. The self-declared Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened other nations, including the United States. Fears about terrorism have been in the spotlight ever since. In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, more than half of respondents said they think a major, lethal terrorist attack is either “very likely” (38 percent) or “somewhat likely” (43 percent) to occur in the U.S. in the near future.

Fear and stereotyping

American concern about terrorism has also influenced opinion about whether Syrian refugees should be allowed into our country. A Syrian passport was found near one of the suicide bomber’s bodies — a passport investigators now think may have been stolen or faked and used by the terrorists, who were all European Union citizens, to implicate refugees.

Increasingly Americans who are not Muslim seem to be stereotyping those who are. A September poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56 percent of Americans believe Islam’s values are “at odds with” American values. Not all Muslims are opposed to American values (which Americans — Muslim and otherwise — already define differently). Not all refugees represent a threat; but fear can drive us to accept such stereotypes.

Fear not!

While fear is a natural reaction to acts of terrorism, it usually doesn’t lead us to respond in ways that are faithful to God. Our faith and Scripture tells us God is greater than any terrifying force: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1a, NRSV). Christian youth live in a world where, sadly, terrorism isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. By helping them think about God as our only source of courage and confidence, we are equipping them to handle feelings of fear about terrorism and giving them space to think about how they can faithfully follow Jesus through any fearful days to come.

Question of the day: How did you hear about the attacks in Paris?
Focal Scriptures: Psalm 46; John 1:43-51; Matthew 5:9; 2 Timothy 1:1-7 

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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