A Christian Response to Terrorism

Boston Marathon Mourning


#Prayer is suddenly all over Twitter, social media and the news, and our culture seems to uncharacteristically crave the necessity of supernatural goodness when faced with evil—and so should Christians. We need to pray diligently.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.


Everyone is loved by God and made in His image—a divine creation. The words and actions of Christ clearly teach us to aid those in need, so as Christians we ought to actively help the world around us. In terror situations it often means selflessly and sacrificially serving.

Donate blood, purchase needed supplies, volunteer at hospitals, give foods to rescue workers, provide comfort to victims, and donate our time and energy in whatever ways possible. Christians need to be first-responders instead of spectators.

Matthew 25:40 Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me


Ecclesiastes 3:1;4 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. 

John 11:35 Jesus wept. 

Terrorism reminds us of the fragile sanctity of life. As hard as we might try to distract ourselves from the grief, sorrow and pain, sometimes these are the most honest and healthy feelings to have in such moments.

Related: In Light of the Boston Marathon, Today We Pray for Our Enemies – by Jon Huckins

We also mourn the realization that our world is corrupted by evil and sin. Death is a horrific weapon the enemy uses to wage war against God. We weep alongside Jesus.


When innocent people die there is a natural urge to hate, blame and seek revenge. But contrary to everything within our fallen nature, Jesus calls us to forgive.

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

In life’s worst situations, we must always look to Jesus’ example—not the government, not the media, not our peers…but Jesus. And as Jesus was being tortured and mutilated on a cross, He did something utterly amazing. He said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23: 34)

It goes against everything within us, and many will not understand why we would do such a thing, but we must forgive.

Trust God:

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted

Brave New Films

God is omnipotent and sovereign. He is a God of justice and righteousness. When we try to take things into our own hands, we are denying the power of God. Don’t be hasty in your anger. When Jesus was crucified—a horrific terrorist attack—He trusted God, and so should we.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Do Not Fear:

As images of violence, hate, blood and panic flood our computer and television screens, it’s easy to be overcome with fear. But fear not, for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Followers of Christ should be seen as sources of mental/emotional/spiritual strength, courage, comfort and peace in times of trials. Unfortunately, Christians are often the exact opposite.

Have Hope:

Revelation 21: 1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope

Enough said.

Be A Peacemaker:

When the Pharisees came to arrest Jesus before His crucifixion, Peter reacted by drawing his sword and attacking the enemy—but he was rebuked by Jesus. It’s easy for us to be like Peter, wanting to defend and defeat evil through physical violence. But Jesus calls us to be peacemakers.

Also by Stephen: Am I a Christian Bigot?

Striving for peace is often radically countercultural. But Christ routinely avoided violence when He could have easily conquered the entire world—instead He chose to humbly die. As Christians, are we willing to die for peace, or fight for death?

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called children of God

Simply put, when the world seems to be crumbling down around us, turn to Jesus. Study Jesus. Follow His example. Listen to His teachings. Be a loving and redemptive force to everyone around you. Amen.

Stephen Mattson has written for Relevant, Sojourners, and The Burnside Writer’s Collective. He graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. Follow him on Twitter @mikta.

Photo Credit: AFP/GETTY

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About the Author

Stephen Mattson

Stephen MattsonStephen Mattson has written for Relevant, Sojourners, and The Burnside Writer's Collective. He graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at University of Northwestern – St. Paul. Follow him on Twitter @mikta and on his personal blog stephenjmattson.comView all posts by Stephen Mattson →

  • Michael

    We should also trust that God’s wrath will fall on those who did this, and if we are able we should seek to do good for the terrorists so that we may incite God to take vengeance against them.

    Romans 12. 19,20
    Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    • otrotierra

      Indeed, followers of Jesus will enact the Greatest Commandment unconditionally. In contrast, followers of Mars, the Roman God of War, will justify violence and call for more destruction.

  • 22044

    Good points, but I will pray that the perpetrators are brought to justice as well. In a civil society, this outcome is necessary.

    • 22044

      The point about forgiveness is not for us unless we are the victims of the senseless acts of violence yesterday. To pretend otherwise is an exercise in false sanctimony.
      It will apply when miscreanty is committed against us, though.

    • Keith C. Edwards

      No. Bring justice to them. Shed man’s blood; prepare to shed yours. Had we practiced it in the 60’s-70’s, we would be in this position today.

      • 22044

        Interesting. Can you elaborate?

    • Sean

      Civil societies execute in the way God has allowed them, but that doesn’t mean what they do is just, or that they can ever execute God’s justice. As Christians we must work for the love and redemption, even of the ugliest of perpetrators.

  • I fully support the views above and will str

  • Sherwood

    I am rather disturbed by the sense of the article and more generally, by those who responded. We should not have to be reminded of the scriptures covering each of the prompts. This act in Boston does not call for a Sunday School lesson. It is a reminder for all of us – first, to discover our own thoughts on why another person would deliberately set out to kill others. There has to be a motive and that has yet to be revealed. And we ought to realize, this is another in a series of assaults on people because another person, or a group of persons, was ready to accept responsibility for the outrage that follows. This is not downtown, Bethlehem or Jerusalem. This is the United States of America and we, the people, are the targets merely because of our claim as citizens.

    The Bible teaches, “Where sin does abound, (God’s) grace does all the more abound.” (Romans 5:20)

    When the first “Americans” prepared to land in what we now recognize as the State of Massachusetts, they agreed to promote the cause of Christ and they tried – and generally speaking, failed as they had no longer began to move inland, a war was provoked between our citizens and the original natives.

    No one should should condemn those who signed the Mayflower Compact, but it ought to be evident that at least, some of their actions would become the seeds of that rebellion. So it is with many among us today. They talk the talk; they have problems, walking the walk. I know that for a fact as I number my own self among them. I know the Bible; I speak its language, but too often, I allow the voices I hear on the streets to overwhelm me. What is wrong? The Bible claims that I was saved by grace, God’s grace, and I ought to be dead to sin in my own life. Am I? God knows!

    So you wonder, what has this to do with the events of April 15 in Boston? I believe, everything!

    The gospel of Matthew reveals the manifesto of the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He “saw the multitudes” and He began to speak. Many will recall his first words, “Blessed are those…” over and over again until we still get excited as we want to believe – even today, He was speaking of us, of me and you, and wherever we gather in His name, but then He nails us. “You – yes, you, are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing…” Oh my, He is speaking to me, now! “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Where have we heard this in recent years?) “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck-measure, but as a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Need I go on?

    Brothers and sisters, look at the house we have built, houses built to glorify God we said, but do we glorify God when we allow our nation to continue in the path we have followed for generations. Yes, we have made attempts to glorify God, but is our “light” designed to shine on all men? Excuse me.
    No, we have not, let’s not kid ourselves. Look at us. Do not – for even a moment, look at others.

    Yes, of course, sin continues to abound, but what of God’s grace? Are we aware of our gift? If so, why have we allowed ourselves to become as divided as we are today, this very hour. Yes, we were there on Boylston Street when the bombs exploded and we were among those who were willing to give up their own lives to rescue others. No one should say we are not a good people, occasionally.

    But can you say, you truly represent the kingdom of God by making certain our light has become a beacon for all to see and be drawn unto? I know you try, so do I, and it disturbs me that my life is drawing to an end and we seem to have allowed ourselves to be drawn apart, not only from our brothers and sisters in the faith, but from the legions among us who have no idea that our Lord, Jesus, came heralded as being, The Prince of Peace.

    There is a time for Sunday School lessons, to be certain. But there also those hours in our lives when it ought to become aware, we have missed the mark. It is time to look at our own candles.

    • Michael

      A Sunday school lesson about how we don’t need a Sunday school lesson.

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