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Four things to say in the office about the Paris attacks

Monday 16 November 2015

This article originally appeared at, a website of Melbourne City Bible Forum. It is reproduced here, with permission.

The deadly terrorist attacks in Paris have shocked the world. The images of the bloodshed, the horrific accounts of those who escaped alive, the pictures of a nation weeping. Around Australia and in offices today it is on the lips of many, being spoken about in conversation after conversation. As a Christian how should I respond? What should I say?

  1. Weep with those who weep

Perhaps the first thing to say is…nothing. We are to be people who “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Those in your office and workplace may be moved to varying degrees; some fearful of such an attack happening closer to home, others may be French people themselves and the attacks have affected them deeply. In times of tragedy we are to be the ones who stand alongside those weeping and weep with them.

  1. If necessary, say sorry

One common response over the past few days has been to say that all religions are to blame for the violence and terror in the world. If you hear this comment don’t rush too quickly to be defensive. It is true that those claiming to be followers of Jesus have been responsible for great violence throughout history. So acknowledge this.

But if you have the opportunity to say something more perhaps you could add one of these comments. Remind people that much violence and terror has also been waged at the hands of those who have professed to have no religious faith. This three minute video response from Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias is helpful in understanding this further.

Or you might acknowledge that while the followers of Jesus are greatly flawed – including yourself – He is not. Ask your colleague if they think such violence aligns with what they know of Jesus. Chances are it doesn’t. Talk to them about Him, the one who came not to wage war, but to give His own life as a ransom for many.

  1. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it”Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.58.11 am

Over the weekend you perhaps saw the response from the NSW Premier Mike Baird, a Christian man, to the terror attacks in Paris. Posting a photo on his Facebook page of the Opera House lit up with the colours of the French flag, he included these words: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. These words are from John 1:5. They speak of Jesus, the light of the world, who is greater than all the darkness of the world. In Him there is life and light and hope.

Why not mention Mike Baird’s Facebook post to your colleagues? Ask them if they saw it. Ask them what they make of the quote. And take the opportunity to explain to them that it is actually a verse from the Bible talking about Jesus. Speak to them about the only hope in the wake of such a tragedy; the forgiveness and life in Jesus.

  1. #PrayforParis

Also on social media over the weekend the hashtag #PrayforParis has been trending. In times of global tragedy many people speak more openly about prayer. So why not speak more openly yourself about it in your office today? Share with your colleagues what you have been praying for those affected by the terror attacks. Or if your church did something special over the weekend by way of praying for France share that with them briefly.

Or perhaps you could even organise a short prayer time in your office tomorrow? Get your employer’s permission and send an email around using the hashtag #PrayforParis inviting those interested to join you. It doesn’t need to be long – just 5 or 10 minutes in an office meeting space, and lead everyone in prayer for Paris. You can find some suggested prayers here.

Andrew Laird directs Life@Work.

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