When is violence the answer?

In the aftermath of the Parisian attacks last month, French President Francois Hollande vowed a "merciless" responseagainst ISIS.Within days, France had bombed an ISIS target in Syria and performed numerous raids within France itself, killing and capturing several terror suspects.

We can all understand this response. Terrorist attacks against civilians are horrifying. In an effort to seek justice for the slaughtered and to prevent future attacks, we turn to violence in our response.

As a Christian, should I have a problem with this?

How To Respond to Terrorism

We've seen an increasing number of mass shootings in the United States recently (353 in 2015, so far), not to mention attacks in places like Paris, Nigeria and Mali. When we find out about the latest violence, it can be tempting to shake our heads and long for the day when believers in Jesus get to escape this world and live for all eternity in heaven where there is no pain or tears.

The problem is, that viewpoint is completely antithetical to what the Christian scriptures teach.

The Bible teaches that Christ followers are supposed to engage in the world, not escape from it.

The Danger in Borders: Valuing Refugees in the Age of Terrorism

The prophet Jonah received direction from God to go and preach to the people of the city of Nineveh, warning them of their impending destruction. Jonah instead, as you may be aware, immediately undertook a journey in the opposite direction from Nineveh.

Later in the book of the prophet, we learn why Jonah did this.

"I knew that you [God] are gracious. You are tender and kind. You are slow to get angry. You are full of love. You are a God who takes pity on people. You don’t want to destroy them [the Ninevites]."

Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. Perhaps the people of Nineveh, a brutal people, had wronged Israelite, or perhaps their reputation simply preceded them. Whatever the reason, Jonah did not want to see forgiveness given to these people who existed outside the land of God's chosen people - the Jews.

Jonah valued the identity of his fellow countymen and women so much, he was unable to provide ministry leading essentially to the salvation of the people of another nation-state.

It was only after God went to great lengths that Jonah complied with the direction of a God who, much to his dismay, held affection for his enemies.

God would not allow his prophet to love borders more than people.