25 June 2017 / Day 30
France: Praying for those who persecute you.
In recent years, France has been the victim of several bloody terrorist attacks, inspired by Islamic extremism. Some of these attacks have been clearly focused, such as the killing of the artists at the magazine, ‘Charlie Hebdo’, or the clients of a Kosher supermarket and a rock concert – and of course the shocking assassination of an elderly Catholic priest. Others have been indiscriminate, costing the lives of Muslims as well as Christians. Pavement cafés have been sprayed with bullets and innocent people run over by a truck.
It would be a lie to say that this has not created a deep sense of shock and revulsion. At first, there was a national outpouring of solidarity and unity, even a sense of sympathy towards non-extremist Muslims living in France. However, as attacks continued, there are signs that the remarkable tolerance of the French people is wearing thin. That is, of course, just what the terrorists were hoping to achieve.
Christian leaders in France remind us: “For Christians, living alongside Muslim neighbours and fellow-citizens, we must go back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44: ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you will become children of your Father in heaven.’”
The challenge is to meet hate with love. To look at every veiled women or North African man that we cross in the street, with love in our hearts and not rejection. If we are confused, we must understand that non-violent Muslims are even more confused. Love means trying to understand them, and praying that God would touch their hearts. In France, we live with over 4.5 million Muslims. God has placed them on our door-step.
How to Pray
- Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Pray for Christians in France, and in all nations affected by extremism, that they will be able to follow the teaching of Christ to love our enemies.
- Pray for Muslims who are involved in, or thinking about becoming involved in, terrorist activity. Jesus says love and prayer go together – that is the purpose of this guide.
- Pray for the victims of violence and for the wisdom of government leaders. The purpose of terrorism is hate and division. More than ever, we need leaders who will lead with wisdom.