It looked like an episode of Spooks. But it wasn’t. This was the real BBC and it was a real terrorist incident outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Five people have died and at least 40 were injured after an attacker drove a car along a pavement in Westminster, stabbed a policeman and was shot dead by police in the grounds of Parliament. (BBC)

Various thoughts came to mind. Because this is London, and because we watch BBC/Sky/CNN, this attack will dominate the media. But such attacks are daily realities in other parts of the world. Do you remember the IS attack on a Kabul military hospital in March? In that incident, IS gunmen dressed as doctors killed 30 people.

I recall a time when the terrorists were the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Remember the Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings on 20 July 1982? Eleven military personnel and seven horses were killed. This should challenge any notion that terrorism is essentially a Muslim problem. Given the right circumstances, any community is capable of terrorist violence.

Violence is, finally, a human problem that is rooted in our alienation from God. When humankind sinned, they were not only estranged from God, they were estranged from each other. Adam blames Eve for his sin instead of taking responsibility. By the next generation, Cain would smash the skull of his brother Abel and we hear echoes of that blow echoing throughout history, more recently in places like Kabul and London.

How long O Lord? When will we be finally free of violence and these daily expressions of human inhumanity to each other? We see passages like Isaiah 11: 1-16 and we hold God at His word:

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them. (NIV)

We long for that day when the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat and the calf and the lion will be together. We note that this unity will come about because God’s Messiah will come to remove evil and injustice, and this will involve humanity’s recognition of His leadership.

. . . attempts to arrive at a just world peace based on mutual self-interest must finally fail. Only mutual commitment to the Holy One who is righteous and faithful can provide an environment where human beings can commit themselves to one another in trust . . . (John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1 – 39 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986], 284.)

We know the Messiah has come but we didn’t count on the fact that His plan was a two-parter. In His first coming He suffers and dies on our behalf but it is only in His second coming that He will complete His restoration programme. What is kind of cool is that He uses violence to destroy violence. It was His death on the Cross that put into play God’s plan to remove sin and the results of sin. But we have to wait for His coming again to finish the job. At least He gave us the resurrection on which to pin our hopes.

What do we do in the meantime?

We pray “your kingdom come” while committing ourselves to be agents of His will on earth. That includes:

  • Weeping with those who weep and doing what we can to help bear the burdens of the victims of violence.
  • Supporting the legitimate attempts of the authorities in their efforts to prevent violence.
  • Building bridges between different communities in obedience to God’s call to be peacemakers.
  • Working for justice especially for the weak and disenfranchised.
  • Lovingly sharing the gospel as we try to point people to the only true source of peace with justice.

No, last night’s terrorist attack in London was not an episode of Spooks. It is not entertainment. And we can’t watch on as though it is just entertainment. WWJHYD? What would Jesus have you do? What would Jesus have me do? What would Jesus have us do together?