Amongst all the different responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack this last week has been the tag “Je suis Charlie”. Very soon after news broke of the murder of the journalists at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo paper, those who wanted to show their solidarity with the victims rallied under the tag “Je suis Charlie”.
It has been a simple but powerful expression of solidarity with those who were murdered. It says, “You did this to Charlie, you did it to me – I am Charlie,” and perhaps also with a note of defiance, “you can’t kill us all.”
As we hear about terrible events like those in Paris, it prompts us to ask where God is to be found in such terrible atrocities. As I reflected in this way, it struck me that “Je suis Charlie” gives us a very good way to answer this kind of question. Jesus was with the journalists because He too suffered in just the same way – Christ himself was put to death by cruel men for the very reason that he posed a threat to religious people who considered Him to be blasphemous. Now though Jesus was not being blasphemous his willingness to surrender his life to cruel misguided men speaks: “Je suis Charlie”.
Indeed, the Lord is with all who suffer in whatever way because He has shown his solidarity with us in our personal suffering by his own passion and death. The expression of solidarity through identification in “Je suis Charlie” helps us as Christian people to understand in an even deeper way God’s heart for His broken world.
However, as Christians we can extend this thinking one step further. When we suffer, it is not just that God has identified with us, it is also that we identify with Christ – “Nous sommes Christ”. The Apostle Paul speaks of this: “…if indeed we shared in his sufferings in order that we share in his glory,” (Romans 8:17b) and “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).
In a world full of so much pain and cruelty, we do have a message as Christian people. God is with you – He says, “Je suis Charlie,” but we can also say we are with the Lord in His pain over his world: “Nous sommes Christ.”
Mark Wickenden, Minister