He fit the profile. He was young, single, middle-eastern. He came from a respectable, middle to upper class, family. He was well-educated, a law student, studied under a zealous religious leader.
Wariness grew from changes around him. Foreign trade had brought an array of diverging cultures to his hometown. He had seen his traditions compromised. He committed his life to uphold his religious beliefs, and excelled in his studies and in his passion for God. This young man vowed to do anything and everything necessary in allegiance to God.
This individual stood by as an innocent man was murdered in the street. He wasn’t just a bystander, but a member of the angry mob. He watched the blood spill. He watched life drain out of an innocent man. Instead of being sickened by this, he committed himself even further to the cause.
Emboldened by the sight of innocent blood (though not innocent in his mind), he boasted threats of murder against Christians. He gained the approval of his superiors and embarked on a journey through parts of Syria. He promised to take captive any Christian; man, woman or child. He planned to take them to his notorious companions. He wanted to lead them to the same bloodstained streets, to the same fate of the ‘innocent’ man. This trail of terror would be committed out of allegiance to God, for he undoubtedly agreed with the phrase “Allahu Akbar.”
As we watch the news, in horror, in sadness, at a loss for words, we don’t care about the perpetrators of the vile acts. We have an innate idea of justice and we know that a great wrong has been done. Executions. Beheadings. Bombs. How could a person subscribe to this type of lifestyle?
The heartbreaking tragedy in Paris is the latest but not the last act of senseless violence committed in the name of God. The shedding of innocent blood in no way reflects the glory of God, rather it reflects the depths of human depravity. In times like this we become aware of the evil that is always present.
God alone can atone for the sins of man. God truly is greater than our depravity. God can also transform a person. God can even transform a terrorist. Pray for the family of the victims in Paris. Pray for the city of Paris and the nation of France.
Do not forget to pray for all the young men, and women, that fit the profile of a terrorist. Even if they have already been involved in the shedding of innocent blood. The only blood that is truly innocent is the blood of Christ. His blood washes away the stains of sin for even the worst offenders.
He fit the profile perfectly. Much like a modern-day terrorist, he persecuted Christians in the name of God. While in Syria, determined to destroy Christianity, he met Jesus. On the road to Damascus everything changed. He, Saul of Tarsus, was transformed into the apostle Paul.