Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faced a Boston judge yesterday, as he was formally sentenced to death. As he entered the court, the man who killed three and injured 260 others smiled and laughed with his attorney.
Islamic militants such as Tsarnaev continue to attack Americans. Since 9/11, however, non-Muslim extremists have murdered nearly twice as many Americans as the number killed by radical Muslims. The murder of nine African-Americans in Charleston last week is just the latest example. As The New York Times notes, “homegrown radicals” are more deadly than jihadis in the U.S.
In other terrorism news, President Obama has announced that the government will no longer threaten criminal prosecution of families who try to ransom their loved ones held hostage by groups such as ISIS. The policy is intended to eliminate confusion on this issue. For example, while Theo Padnos was held hostage by the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, his mother was told by the State Department that she could be prosecuted if she paid a ransom for his release. However, the FBI offered to help her make such a transaction.
One more news item: Google has announced that Gmail will now let you undo send. The world’s most popular email service will let you choose a setting that holds an email up to 30 seconds, so you can change your mind. Unfortunately, this feature is not yet available for mobile devices.
These stories, taken together, can be seen as a kind of parable. Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He often strikes God’s people from within, conspiring to turn us against each other. From Ananias and Sapphira to today (Acts 5:1-11), he seeks “homegrown radicals” who will attack each other and thus injure the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
When we are tempted by such sin, let’s use Satan’s strategy against him. Like family members negotiating for loved ones, we can turn temptation into intercession. And we can choose not to “send” words that would wound each other. Our unity is our greatest witness to a skeptical, divided culture. They will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:34-35).
The urgency of loving community was brought home to me yesterday in a powerful way. Craig Denison writes First15, a ministry of the Denison Forum that leads readers in a 15-minute encounter with God each morning. In yesterday’s devotional, Craig noted: “Even though Jesus defeated the power of sin in our lives, our great enemy continues to tempt us, lie to us and steal from us the abundant life God intends. He continues to try to rob God of what he so fully deserves, unencumbered relationship with his children.”
I know that sin injures me, and thus my Father. But I hadn’t considered the fact that sin also grieves my Father because it injures my relationship with him. As the father of two sons, I can testify that anything which harms my relationship with them would grieve my heart beyond words. So it is with our sin and our Father in heaven.
Are you being tempted to harm the body and cause of Christ today?