Right now I am reading the prequel to Dan Brown’s novel “The DaVinci Code.” It’s called “Angels and Demons,” and it’s about a sect called the Illuminati that is composed of scientists devoted to the downfall of the Catholic Church. The way in which the Illuminati goes about its attack on the Vatican is through a form of terrorism, so throughout the book the main character tries to crawl inside the minds of the perpetrators. As he attempts to do this, he considers the motive behind terrorism and I found his conclusion to be incredibly insightful:
“Quite simply, the goal of terrorism is to create terror and fear. Fear undermines faith in the establishment. It weakens the enemy from within…causing unrest in the masses. Terrorism is not an expression of rage. Terrorism is a political weapon. Remove a government’s facade of infallibility, and you remove its people’s faith.”
I thought this description of terrorism was not only accurate, but extremely relevant as we live in a culture in which terrorism is a very real possibility. Ever since September 11, we have lived in relative fear. I know a lot of people who will no longer fly on planes or live in big cities that could be a potential target of terrorism. We have become a culture that lets fear dictate how we live, and as Brown points out in his novel, it has resulted in a lack of faith in that institution which is ordinarily meant to protect us.
Given the current approval ratings of our government, you can see the effects of terrorism quite plainly, but the “loss of faith” to which Brown refers can be far more destructive than a simple lack of faith in secular government. For Christians, the key issues is not a loss of confidence in the U.S. Government, but a loss of confidence in God. If we are letting fear dictate the way we live, then we are not letting God.
As we live in a culture plagued by terrorism, we need to keep our hearts and minds in check–how does the threat of terrorism make us feel or live? If it leaves us feeling consistently unsettled or fearful, then the terrorists are succeeding in undermining our faith–our faith in God. We need to reach a point at which we can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. If we can embrace this truth, then it shouldn’t matter whether or not the Terror Alert goes up or down–our security remains the same.
Just a thought to keep in mind as we dwell in a culture that is actively fighting terror. We should indeed be fighting terror, but as Christians our motive is slightly different than that of our government. We fight terror because it threatens our confidence in God. Whenever we are tempted to be fearful about what our country’s future may hold, we must recognize that fear as an attack on our relationship with God. We should never let fear determine our outlook on the world or our lifestyle–peace in Christ alone should be the chief determinate of how we live.