I pray for Paris.
I am told that it is not okay. That my prayers are not wanted or needed. I am told that prayers and religion are what caused this mess in the first place. I hear and understand those concerns, but I will continue to pray. I will pray because it is all that I have to give. It is the very best that I have to give.
I pray for Paris because when I am in crisis, I treasure the very best that you have to give. I don’t care if your best is a prayer to Allah, Brahma, Loki, or Zeus. I appreciate the best you have. Perhaps your best is well wishes into the universe or even music, kisses, life, champagne, and joy. If it is your best, it humbles me and I welcome and appreciate it.
I will embrace your best, and I will continue to offer my best, not only for Paris, but for Jerusalem, Beirut, San Pedro Sula, Cape Town, and Kabul. I will continue to weep for these places and for all places that hunger for peace. Paris is not the only one. People crave peace in major cities all over this planet, perhaps even in the home of my own neighbor.
I will offer my best because I have received the best. You see, once upon a time, a boy was born into a world where gentiles were considered “unclean” at best. This little boy grew into a man who gave his best, both for his own Jews, but also to the gentiles. He didn’t ask if they deserved it. He didn’t complain that they would steal all of the jobs and wealth. He never excluded those of the same race that killed both Him and so many of His people. I am eternally grateful for this.
I will do my best to model myself after this Jewish carpenter, even though it might be awkward. It might not be appreciated. It might not be popular. I will embrace refugees who might look like my enemy. Who might hurt me. Who might drain my resources. Because what we have is not ours to hold tight, but ours to offer to others. Grace has been given to me, more times than I even know, and so I must offer it to others. Even if grace disgusts them. Even if they scare me. Even if they take advantage of me.
So I will continue to pray for Paris, and all other places that are starving for peace. Even if it makes me unpopular with modern culture. I will continue to be humbled by the prayers of people of other or of no faith. Even if it makes me unpopular with other Christians. I will offer my best in my own awkward and uncomfortable way, because offering our best to everyone, whether they want or deserve it or not, makes us a little more Christ like. Unfortunately, being Christ like is rarely popular.
Especially among Christians.