A short word about the Paris terror attacks

Just over a week ago (13/11/15) ISIL terrorists killed 130 people and injured many more in Paris. A week later hostages were taken in a Mali hotel and many were killed. This week Belgium is shut down because of anticipation of a Paris-like terrorist attack there. Here is a brief discussion of what I believe God is saying to us in these events. It has taken me a while to be able to write this down, because I needed to examine my own heart to see whether I am also guilty (quite likely). While there are no doubt some particular political reasons why these attacks were directed against the French, there are deeper matters which we need to pay attention to.
I believe that the significant factor in this matter is the location of these attacks. The Paris attacks occurred in places of entertainment – a football match, restaurants and cafe, a bar, and a concert venue. The Mali hostage siege was carried out in what the West Australian called a luxury hotel. These places are significant because they represent western hedonism. Our culture is surely obsessed with entertainment, pampering and luxury. Everywhere we turn we are told to put our pleasure at the forefront of our lives.
It is not that God is opposed to people having lives which include pleasure. Indeed he has created all things good and all good things come from him (James 1:17). What is at issue here is exemplified by the French ideal of secularism. The French are proud of their secular society, something which has been the French way of life since the French Revolution. Of western European nations, the French are the most intentionally secular. To embrace a religious perspective is to be anti-French according to the French worldview. But, although the French are the most intentional in regard to secularism, the rest of the western world is not far behind. We in Australia may be geographically distant from France, but secularism is certainly not far away. A recent example is the banning of scripture teaching in Victorian schools.
The French and indeed people of the western world in general live their lives as if there were no God. Jesus told a parable about a rich man who, confident in his material prosperity, decided to relax, eat, drink and be merry. Yet he had no riches toward God (Luke 12:16-21) since he lived his life without reference to the God who would ultimately judge his decisions. Since in the western world many people have an abundance of money, they believe that they have no need to concern themselves with God at all. Instead, the goal is to “relax, eat, drink and be merry”. Yet “eat, drink and be merry” is the motto, Paul says, of those who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor 15:32). In other words, people in western cultures live as if there is no God, and without expectation of the resurrection of the dead or the judgment which accompanies it.
However, it seems that the time has come when that attitude is being judged. The Paris attacks may have been carried out by ISIL terrorists, but there is ample biblical precedent for the God of the Bible using evil persons and nations to bring about his judgment on people (e.g. Jer 25:9). No doubt terrorist attacks are scary, but I believe that these are merely a warning shot over the bow, metaphorically speaking. Opportunity is being given to the western world to repent of our godless hedonism. If we do not repent, I can only imagine that this kind of occurrence will become more frequent or further judgments will befall us a culture.
What of the church? If judgment begins with the household of God (1 Pet 4:17) then surely repentance begins there too. But, more importantly, Jesus has repented for us all. He went often to eat and drink with others and was accused by some of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matt 11:19). Yet his focus was not on enjoying himself without reference to his Father’s will. Instead he denied all hedonistic pleasure-seeking when willingly going to the cross. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Heb 12:2) since he knew that at the right hand of the Father is everlasting joy (Psalm 16:11). Jesus could lay down his life and suffer within the will of the Father since he knew that he would be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10). It is this confidence in the resurrection of the dead which will enable Christians to repent of our culturally-conditioned hedonism. Let us pray for our country and the western world to experience the confidence of a future resurrection, a confidence which only comes with the proclamation of the cross of Christ and his resurrection from the dead.

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