Maybe even this word makes you feel nervous or upset. This session was written after the three terror attacks in England in the first half of 2017. In each of these attacks, terrorists killed innocent people simply because they wanted to cause terror in the lives of anyone who doesn't see the world like them.
Terror is the use of fear to control people and make people do things.
The message of this session is to never lose hope. Hope is on its way! His name is Jesus.
(Click on the PDF icon top right to download this session or click here).
One Love Manchester - Where Is The Love?
Write down how you feel about terror
When you heard about the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert or the attacks in London, how did it make you feel?
How do you feel towards the people who do these evil things?
Do you feel safe?
How can we respond to things like this, as Christians?
What answers do we have for other people?
How can we support people, our emergency services and others?
What difference can we make as Christians, compared to other people who are not?
How do we show God's kind of love?
One Love Manchester - Justin Bieber quote
Justin Bieber said, "God is good is the midst of the evil. God is good in the midst of the darkness. He loves you... What an amazing thing we’re doing tonight, would you agree that love always wins? What a better way than to fight evil with evil, is to fight evil with good? Would you guys agree with that?"
Great words from Justin Bieber, reflecting what the Bible says that we should overcome evil with good.
Close Your Eyes
(Note if you're in a dark room, turn the lights off and then on as you tell the story - obviously use poetic license and build up more of a story if you want to).
Just imagine... you're in an underground cave as part of a tour. All around you are stalactites hanging down and stalagmites going up. There is a big cavern above you. Either side there are smaller caves unexplored for hundreds of years. There are all kinds of memories in this cave. Suddenly, the tour guide switches all the lights off. It's so dark and eerie. There is no sound. Nothing. It feels empty. Lonely. The light stays off and you begin to wonder when the light will go back on. Still no light. Silence. You feel a sense of panic and don't quite know what to do. Then suddenly, they light a candle and it pushes away the darkness. You feel so relieved and don't feel so scared or alone any more because you can see. But someone has to go to the darkness and bring a light.
The darkness in that cave is how many people feel all the time. Lighting the candle is like what it means to overcome evil with good and that is the message of hope Jesus has given you to give to others!
Being Counter-Cultural - What The Bible Says
Romans 12:21 - Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 - See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
1 Peter 3:11 - Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
3 John 1:11 - Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
So here are some of the ways that God calls us to respond to terror and evil around us:
1. Don't let yourself be or feel overcome by evil. Instead, overcome evil by doing good.
2. Don't pay people back for the evil they do. Instead, do good - and pray for people.
3. Turn away from evil. Live your life looking for peace, helping people find peace and keeping peace.
4. Those who do good prove they know God and are from God. Those who do evil prove they aren't from God and don't know God.
God asks each of us to be a 'living sacrifice' - that means we live a life of love where we live for God and his love and truth. We are unique as Christians in that God lives in us.
Get people into pairs and then put blindfolds on one of each pair. The other person then has to guide the other person around the room using only their voice. Put a few (safe!) obstacles in their way that they need to move around. Then swap roles and get the pairs to go again!
Point - Jesus is like a really good guide that helps people around the obstacles of life. He's the only one who can see the obstacles, only one who can help you avoid them and the only one who can help if you get stuck on an obstacle. That is why the message and truth of Jesus is so important, especially in times where people have fear and lose hope. Not everything that happens is from God but God is still in charge and with us. He knows what's best for us and is always there for us. His plan is to help us walk in the light, avoid obstacles we don't need to bump into and to help us be examples who then show other people how to live.
In The Last Days...
Luke 21.25-28 - And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
We learn that in the last days before Jesus returns, there will be strange things happen on the earth and up in the skies above us. It also tells us that people will be terrified at what they see coming on the earth. That word terrified is the same kind of word as terror.
Another version of the Bible says that people will faint from terror. But if we know Jesus, we don't need to fear. The Apostle Paul put it this way - "if I live then that's great because I can tell people about Jesus and live for him. But if I die, that's even better because then I'll be where Jesus is in heaven, this amazing and perfect place that's so amazing it makes the world seem like hell."
If terror is the illness, then just be encouraged that Jesus is the antidote. Only Jesus can change people's hearts, stop people doing evil and bring good on the earth. One day he will return and he will put an end to everything that is evil. That should help us but it is also a challenge for us to live for God.
Take some time to pray now. This is so powerful and is about asking God to step in to help.
If you're not sure how to pray, take these things below and personalise them. So for example, say, "God I ask you to protect the UK from terrorism. God I ask that you would stop their plans for evil. Amen."
- Ask God to protect our nation(s) and cities against the terrorists. Ask him to stop their plans.
- Ask God to change the hearts of terrorists so that they stop evil and turn to God.
- Pray for our emergency services and thank God for them.
- Pray for the security services to be blessed with wisdom and to uncover terror plots.
- Pray for the families who have lost people. Pray then would know God's peace, would forgive and turn to God and put their trust in him.
- Pray for those injured - that they would be healed, that they would not be bitter and would turn to God.
- Pray that there would be peace and unity in our nation(s) and that the terrorists wouldn't cause division or other acts of hatred or violence.
- Pray for God's Kingdom to come, God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Pray for anything else that you feel you should pray for.
One of the most powerful things after the Manchester terror attack in May 2017 was people coming together from all backgrounds, races and religions (or none). In the middle of darkness, it showed some of the best of human nature. At One Love Manchester, one of the things said over and over is that love is greater than terror - that love will overcome.
This is true. But it's not human love that will overcome. It is God's love.
This is what God says in the Bible in 1 John 4:
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
God's love will help us not to feel real fear - and to face fear even when we feel afraid. It also tells us who God is - God is love. And this is the only kind of love that wins.
The Greek word used to mean God's love is agapé, which means God's kind of love. This isn't a human love that we see in the movies but God's divine love - what God prefers - it's a Godly love that is pure and comes from God's heart. And this is the kind of love that Jesus showed and that he asks us to show.
Carry God's love and his hope
Go out and don't be afraid. God has given you a love and a hope that will never be put out. Go and share this love and hope with others around you.
Be a life-giver hundreds of times more than the terrorists are life-takers!