Summary: What Christians are to do in the face of terrorism
“GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANY TERRORIST”
BY: Reverend Kenneth Emerson Sauer
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church in Newport News, VA
As you all know, our world was changed this past week--changed by unbelievable and
hideous evil--we have all been affected, we have all mourned--and continue to do so...
Tuesday morning, I was over at First Church Newport News, meeting with other pastors
as we do each week, for prayer, fellowship, and theological reflection.
Around 9:15, the secretary came into the room, and told us that there had been some kind
of terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
We immediately ended our meeting with prayers for those who were involved in
whatever it was that was going on....and then headed our separate ways with no idea just how
horrible this disaster would be....when I got home, my wife embraced me--crying--she had just
watched on live television--something that you only see in movies---but never expect to see
in real life--the second airplane crashing into one of the Towers.
Across the country, shock has turned into grief, and anger.
So the question I want us to ponder this morning.....is what are we as Christians to do
in the face of this tragedy?
In our Scripture lesson for this morning we read that the Apostle Paul was once....in
essence a terrorist....
Hard to believe, but the man who God used to write much of the New Testament, the
man who was one of the most influential evangelists and theologians of all time....was once a
“persecutor, blasphemer, and a violent man.”
Acts chapter 9 tells us that Paul was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s
disciples”, and that “He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in
Damascus, so that if he found any there who” were Christians-- “whether men or women, he
might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
And in Acts chapter 22, we see that he persecuted Christians, all the way to their
deaths....he beat Christians....and when Stephen who replaced Judas as a disciple was
martyred....Paul “stood there” giving his approval “and guarding the clothes of those who were
Yes, the great Apostle Paul was once a terrorist.....
But God loved him anyway.....because God is so much bigger than any
terrorist....bigger than any evil.....and God sought him out...proving His love!
On his way to Jerusalem, with murder on his mind.....Paul whose name was Saul before
his conversion, explains “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from
heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, “Saul! Saul! Why do
you persecute me?
‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.”
This changed Paul for the rest of his life....his entire direction changed.....he made a
360 degree turn....and began preaching Christ....all the way to his own death as a martyr.
And this is the same thing that God can do for the terrorists of today.....even the people
behind the horrendous deeds that we have all witnessed this past week.
Because God is bigger than evil.....love is stronger than hate.....and love ultimately wins.
The Devil may have won the battle this past Tuesday, but Jesus has and will win the
In our Scripture, Paul goes on to say, “I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”
And isn’t this what this mess boils down to?
Ignorance and unbelief!
Isn’t this what is actually at the root of all the world’s problems throughout
history---from our every day sins, to our selfish ambitions, to brutal acts of violence, terror
We live in and are surrounded by ignorance and unbelief....
Ignorance in the ways of God....Ignorance in how to deal with ourselves and other
people.....Ignorance of the Way to salvation and peace.
Now Paul was totally convinced that what he was doing was right....that what he was
doing was God’s will....and I believe that those who perpetrated and carried out last week’s
attack believed that they were doing what was right....it’s hard to imagine....but it’s true.....
As Paul declares in Acts chapter 26, “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was
possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
But our ways are not God’s ways---as Paul soon found out.
For God turned Paul’s ignorance and unbelief into something completely different.
In verse 14, Paul declares, “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
And this is what we need to pray for...this is what we are called to be witnesses
too....this is what we are called to preach and proclaim....
That the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ is bigger than this horrible catastrophe.....