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Terrorism in Paris, Coldness in Heart

While watching the coverage of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, I was tempted to turn the news off and not allow it to ruin my evening. Here’s why I didn’t.

Terrorism in Paris

A 2008 photo of the Bataclan Theater, site of deadly terrorist attack Nov. 13, 2015 (photo by Céline from Dublin, Ireland CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

Friday night. Nov. 13, 2015. Once again we sit sad, sickened and grieving, watching the reports pour out of Paris describing the insanity and perversity of yet more horrific terrorist attacks.

Part of my brain argues, “Turn it off!” It’s happened so many times before you already know what’s coming as the news unfolds. The body count will continue to rise. We’ll see emotional interviews with some of the fortunate who somehow survived and hear their heart-wrenching accounts of those who didn’t. The analysts will speculate about the probable identities and motives of these evildoers. Government leaders will struggle to encourage and comfort their people and assure us of the enemy’s eventual defeat, etc., etc.

What a sad commentary about life today that this scenario of mass-murder has become so routine we can easily script what’s coming next! And we know this is not an isolated event. It will happen again and get much worse.

Indeed, I just heard a commentator bemoan the fact that “this sense of barbarism and beheadings is being accepted as the new norm” and that extremists around the world “love this” because it recruits more fanatics to their cause.

“I don’t want to hear this!”

So as we watch the morbid news tonight, I find myself thinking, “I’m so tired of it! This isn’t how I planned to spend a peaceful Sabbath evening! I don’t want to hear this!”

But despite this internal voice saying, “You don’t have to sit there listening to the unfolding details of yet another gruesome terrorist attack—just pick up the remote and turn it off!” another part of me is answering, “Don’t you dare!”

Why? Because I fear something happening, something spiritually and emotionally bad for me, and you.

I fear growing cold.

Jesus warned that in the last days, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).

The lawlessness and coldness of terrorism is obvious. Not so obvious is the cold that can creep into all of us, and in many different ways. 

We cannot—and don’t want to—understand how such coldness can grow so deeply in someone’s heart that without batting an eye he can randomly massacre the innocent and defenseless—even babies and old people, mothers and children. “Soft targets,” they’re calling them tonight: people who pose no threat and mean no harm. People who would probably give a helping hand to that same terrorist if he needed.

Could your heart grow cold?

But we do need—and want—to understand very clearly the danger of the less obvious—how our hearts can slowly chill if we’re not careful!

Is it possible that even things like the tragic events tonight, senseless killings by coldly-calculating people, could eventually make our hearts grow colder? Is it possible that an urge to escape something emotionally painful could also make us emotionally calloused?

Now I’m not talking about becoming so cold that we turn into terrorists! But just because our hearts aren’t completely frozen doesn’t mean we aren’t slowly developing heart problems!  

If the coldhearted actions of some people become so commonplace that we are growing more and more insensitive to the suffering of others—that’s a heart problem! If we start turning a blind eye to pain, or thicken our skin to the plight of our fellowman—that’s a heart problem! If we let ourselves get used to these things—“here we go again, another terrorist attack, just more dead people we don’t know somewhere we don’t really care about”—that’s a heart problem!

Jesus’ words should always nag at the back of our conscience: Don’t become unfeeling! Take care of your heart!

He cared, even for His enemies. We know the scripture—He so loved the world that He laid down His life for all of us. He never let His heart get calloused.

“Sigh and cry”

Long ago, in another time of spiritual upheaval in Israel and Judah, God told a man to “go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (Ezekiel 9:4).

God’s command gives insight to His thinking! Even though humanity has by and large rejected God, He still cares and watches to see who else cares.  

A few verses later in Ezekiel’s prophecy God made it clear that those who cared—those who could still “sigh and cry”—would be the ones to survive the coming catastrophes on the land. It’s no different today!

In other prophecies for our day, God has said that the hatred that drives events like tonight’s is inevitably going to increase around the world. We can understand those prophecies. We’ve consistently explained them on Life, Hope & Truth, which you can explore from the links at the end of this article.

But we also need to understand and heed Jesus’ prophecy, not about events that will unfold, but about hearts growing cold. Statistically, you and I have little chance of ever being direct victims of terrorism. But Jesus said to beware that we don’t become indirect victims of all the forms of growing lawlessness that is enveloping the world today. 

It’s a cold world, and it’s a hard, internal, spiritual fight to not let it affect us. But it’s a battle worth fighting! Don’t let coldness grow in any form—becoming more calloused, indifferent, inured to suffering, burying our heads in the sand, escaping into work or play, apathetic, unsympathetic, unconcerned, uninterested, unresponsive.

May we keep soft hearts in this hard world, “sighing and crying over the abominations that are done,” and ever praying fervently for the only real solution—God’s Kingdom to come.

For further insight into terrorism, please read:

About the Author

Clyde Kilough

Clyde Kilough is Media operation manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He and his wife, Dee, live in the Dallas, Texas, area.

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