The first place I saw it was in a post on Facebook: “The attacks are close to me. But I’m okay.” The person, a friend from high school, was marked “safe” in the attacks, the post said.
And I began to scroll through my Facebook feed I began to see more news articles appear and a post from another friend living in Paris, “Jesus, make yourself know here.” And even this afternoon, I see over fifty Facebook friends changing their profile picture to the red, white and blue in “support,” as Facebook says, of Paris at this time. Facebook is calling it a “temporary” profile picture change.
But changing our profile picture is not enough. Among the hundreds of news articles, blog posts and stories we see, there is a small mention of the other events happening in the world at the same time. The hashtags we choose to add onto our social media posts are not enough. Because tagging #PrayforParis doesn’t actually create a prayer. Changing our profile picture doesn’t rebuild community. It doesn’t replace the broken hearts and the lost lives.
I don’t mean to be critical, but I want this to be real: we have to start praying, and praying for a long time. For our brothers and sisters overseas who are being persecuted and killed every day, not just in Paris but across the world – we cannot be immune. For the lost, the broken, those who have never heard of Jesus – we cannot hesitate. What we see every day when we turn on the news, both local and world, is how much we truly desire peace. And our peace cannot be a worldly peace, because we see too many hearts breaking a little more every day. But we also see the breakthrough of a powerful God that comes into our situations and brings peace and restoration. We see hope rise and darkness flee. We see our prayers move in power, in the same way of the Kingdom of Light.
We have to bring the hope and light of the Gospel into France– not by our Facebook profile pictures or the things we hashtag, but instead by an incredible God who loves us– and loves them– more than any of us can fathom.
We have to choose to pray, and pray hard. Not only for Paris, but for the world. Not just today, but every day. #PrayforParis isn’t just for the next 24 hours on our Twitter and Instagram news feeds. Our Facebook profile pictures can’t be changed “temporarily” to support those who need hope. It’s a lifetime prayer. We can’t allow our praying to be a trend on social media– we must allow it to be a trend for our life.