As shocking as the events of 9/11 were, as horrible as the various random attacks in Boston and other places are, the recent hacking to death of a British soldier by two young Muslim is, at least to me, something different. It was so brutal and yet so casual, the men waiting for an audience so they could rant about British foreign policy and why it led them to slaughter a man in the street. Their fairly calm speech while a man they butchered lay in the street behind them, along with the instinctive filming of these men by passerby's is chilling and speaks to the general coarsening of our society.
When Western Christians observe events like this, we can easily fall into the trap of seeing horrors like the one in Woolwich and other terrorist attacks as part of a religious war between Christianity and Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly there are secular issues surrounding Islam, Western foreign policy, immigration, assimilation, oil and of course terrorism but those are not issues that are the primary concern of the church. There is nothing inherently more sinful in these two young Muslim men than there is in your next door neighbor that let you borrow his hedge-trimmer.
The same thing that makes two young men hack up a man they apparently didn't know on the streets of the U.K. also leads people to believe that flying a plane into a building full of people going to work gets you rewarded in paradise. It also is what leads people to believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet or that Jews are deserving of mass death in gas chambers or that people of one tribe should be hacked apart with machetes in Rwanda by members of a different tribe. It is also the same issue that leads to the ambivalence of so many people in America who think they are basically good people and if there is a God, He certainly wouldn't keep them out of heaven. It is the same thing that every single human being that destroys every single human being that ever has or ever will live that is not born-again: sin.
These two young men in the U.K. are unregenerate sinners who need something, Someone, desperately and don't even realize it yet. Outside of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit I would be in the same state even if I was not hacking people apart in the street. We can be saddened and troubled by what we see. We can and ought to pray for the family of the young man who was killed but we likewise ought to do the same for these two men and their families. What we must not do is lose sight of the truth that the men who perpetrated this crime are the very type of people we are called to reach and commanded to love. Islam is not the enemy of Christianity. If we believe what the Bible teaches we know that our future is secure, that our Lord reigns now and forever and that the end is set. As we eagerly await the return of our King we must be about His business and not caught up in the wars and rumors of wars, the hateful endless exchange of violence and the picking of sides in conflict. Even when it is difficult, especially when it is difficult, we must love our enemies, do good to them that hate us and overcome evil with good.