The Terrorist Goal is to Cause Fear
Fear is that wrenching uncertainty that binds and traps people. It is a very helpful thing properly directed and in real situations. But fear out of bounds is ruthless and damaging and deadly. The terrorist whether homegrown or foreign born destroying buildings and killing people is seeking the impact of crushing fear on a population. That fear also exists in the home of an abuser who shoves and beats and threatens to instill fear. And fear shows up, doesn’t it? The news, the conversations, the social media pick it up and fear spreads.
That ugly side of fear leads to flight or fight. You have probably noticed. People will lock themselves away behind 14 feet of concrete with supplies for “me and mine” or they are ready to join the war and lock and load those weapons for “any and all” they see as a threat.
Being responsible to have safety is a good thing. Dealing decisively with those who pose a threat is right. But fear on steroids is a different thing. That kind of fear brings delight to the terrorist. In the creation of that fear they win. Let’s not let them win. Ever.
A Behind the Scenes Look at the Battle
Having intel is crucial before engaging in a battle. You as a Christian are familiar with the cosmos as it really is. The physical world or physical universe is not the whole. The invisible (to us) forces of the spiritual dimension are at work in the physical universe. Paul pulls back the curtain for God’s people and says:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
You may remind me that the bombs that have gone off in recent times were very physical and the terrorists were flesh and blood. Yes, absolutely. But behind the scenes there is another force at work. Supporting, encouraging, and guiding those whose hearts are turned to darkness. The people who listen to the devil will be planted among those who are God’s own. It is so in the church and in the communities. Jesus gave a parable that included this idea:
The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. Matthew 13:38-39 (NLT)
The people who belong to the evil one are planted in places like Syria and Paris and all around the world. And plans to steal, kill and destroy are formed.
Breaking news is a search for Salah Abdeslam is underway in the Mollenbeek area of Brussels, Belgium. He is reportedly a leader in the Paris bombings. The most wanted are always the top leaders behind the group and the plan. As it should be. And behind that leader is another. The ultimate leader is the evil one who is at work to create destruction and fear.
A Tale of Intervention
As the world was changing back in the 1990s a plan was put into place for a spiritual intervention in Brussels, Belgium. A shift in Europe was about to happen. By 1992 Brussels would be the center of the European Union. It already hosted the headquarters for NATO. An attempt to take the Gospel to every person in Brussels in 1991 was put into action. The Gospel was broadcast on every media. Printed items were handed out to every house or apartment by going door to door. Conversations were had face to face. Events were held to point people to Jesus. Prayer was going up in every corner. There were specific groups working in the Muslim neighborhoods as well.
Cass and I were there in 1991 leading a team of short-term missionaries on this effort in Brussels. We worked long hours. We linked arms with believers from Egypt, Holland, East Germany, England and Belgium. It was an opportunity to bring light against the darkness of spiritual forces aligning against the people there. I cannot imagine the outbreak that could have occurred if that giant effort had not been made.
The recent events in Paris have located the center of the planning as the Mollenbeek neighborhood of Brussels. It is a primarily Muslim area. Some of those involved were born and grew up in that neighborhood. They are in their 20s. The project called Projet Bruxelles 1991 was 24 years ago. These terrorists were there or were born about that time. God was trying to reach them even then. Others I am sure were reached or turned from doing harm by the prayers and efforts made at that time.
Obviously more spiritual battles will need to be fought in that area. Pray for the people in that neighborhood. Pray for the city of Brussels as well. The Muslims who are not engaged in terrorism are likely to suffer by way of association. Ask God to empower the Christians in that area to reach out with Spirit empowered love. The same will be needed in Paris and Syria. A battle is going on.
Fighting in the War on Terrorism
You can fight in this war on terrorism. You may not be in the military or police force, but you can fight. And there is a place for the physical defenses and the deploying of offensive tactics against terrorists, but the focus here is on the spiritual war. You can fight. You are being asked to fight. People need you to fight.
Begin by not giving in to the fear hoped for by terrorists. Paul reminds us: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Use the weapons God has made available and use them skillfully and boldly.
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)
Here are some important things to understand. The world is waging war one way, but we are God’s people and He has another way for us. Worldly weapons are fine for some battles, but we use God’s mighty weapons. The deceiver has planted the idea even among Christians that prayer is weak and really pointless and only worldly ways are powerful. That isn’t how God sees it. We use God’s mighty weapons. There are strongholds of false thoughts filled with darkness. We can attack those strongholds wherever they are across the globe near or far. We can destroy obstacles that keep people from knowing God.
God wants people everywhere to come to know Him. That is important. Terrorists may be the evil doers that need to be stopped on one hand, but they are also lost and God wants them to repent.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
Our true enemy is the evil one in spiritual places blocking access to God’s light and influencing horrible acts of terror through those caught in his web.
A powerful weapon is prayer. Prayer is something that can be learned. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. It takes practice. It requires submission to God’s ways. It means getting into the Scriptures so that there is an understanding of God’s heart and His instructions. Just jumping in and praying is good, and then develop in it along the way. Here is a place to begin.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT)
The victims of terrorists in Africa or the Middle East, Europe or America need prayer. The family and friends of all those affected need prayers. The businesses and local communities as well. And pray for the terrorists that they would come to Christ and turn away from this evil. In the mind of an Islamic terrorist the most horrible thing that could happen is that they would leave Islam and turn to Christ. Pray.
Paul who was living in the first century in the Roman Empire and dealing with all sorts of local authorities went on to say this:
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:2-4 (NLT)
As terrible stories of war and terrorist’s destruction are unfolding there are people in authority in various countries and locales who have to make decisions. Pray for them. Ask God to guide them in their decision making and in their tasks. Pray for their minds to be open to God’s ways and to block the voice of the enemy.
If you hit a barrier and would like to pray, but don’t know how to go on. Ask God to help you with that. He will give wisdom to those who ask Him. The Holy Spirit is also operational in God’s people. He will help us pray.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8:26 (NLT)
There is power in prayer and God is with us to use this power effectively.
As we join in this battle with terrorists, the battle against the true enemy who is the prince of the powers of the air, we join with Jesus who came to destroy the works of the devil.
But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 (NLT)
Let us be fearless in this battle, strong in God’s might, wielding effectively the weapons God has given us for defeating the enemy.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT)
Thank you for joining in this fight valiant warrior. Let me know if you would like to be more fully trained in prayer.