How to Respond to the ISIS Crisis Like a Christian

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How to Respond to the ISIS Crisis Like a Christian

Christians are called to Jesus' high standard in facing everything in the world, including the misguided brutality of the ISIS philosophy and organization...

Tags: ISIS, justice, forgiveness, truth and love, persecution, ideology, prayer


The events in Paris on November 13, 2015 were horrific.

Christians' prayers will forever be with the families of those whose lives were forever darkened by such evil.

At the same time, Christians are challenged to be sober-minded in how we best respond to the ISIS crisis.

Truly, our world is dealing with a worldwide terror group that is oppressive, brutal, and evil. The world is facing yet another organization that undervalues the life of individual human beings that do not support their twisted ideology.

Christians understand we cannot live in a world that tolerates such evil and must do whatever it takes to rid the world of such evil.

But how can we be most effective in that effort?

Does military force create lasting peace or new orphans and widows for ISIS recruitment?

How do we face ISIS evil with the truth and love Jesus constantly modeled and taught?

Like Jesus, we need to turn to the absolute truth of the Word for direction. It can help us sort through the complicated issues of justice, persecution, ideology, and forgiveness the ISIS evil raises.

Need for JUSTICE


When innocent people are killed on the streets of Paris, our impulse is to seek justice.

We cheer the swift response of the French military that showered bombs on the ISIS infrastructure within hours of being attacked.

We celebrate that ISIS invited greater Russian retaliation after they killed innocent travelers on a commercial Russian jet. After all, Russia seems much less bound by political whims that tend to handcuff American troops.

But while these realities FEEL good, are they the RIGHT response? Do they glorify God? Do they help us accomplish the mission Christ gave us - to know Jesus and to make him known?

It's clear the answer is no, so what can we learn from the Bible?

The Word tells us that God alone is the ultimate judge.

The Lord declares that vengeance is His over and over again:
  • "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them" (Deuteronomy 32:35)
  • "May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you" (1 Samuel 24:12)
  • "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord" (Romans 12:19)

We are called to trust in the Lord to serve the kind of justice ISIS deserves. We can rest in His promise. At the same time, we consider that the French and Russian militaries ARE the hands of God delivering His wrath to whom it has been well-earned.

Even more, consider that Jesus himself declares a radical response to our enemies - to love them.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us difficult instruction:
  • "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44)

We are called to repay evil with good, seek to do good for everyone, avoid revenge, and leave room for God's wrath:
  • "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  • "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:17-21)

The world must respond with military force to make a stand against the kind of evil ISIS spreads. Humanity has to make a collective stand against actions that will not be tolerated in a civilized society. But our military response must also include our faith in God's justice and some element of sharing Jesus' love with our enemies.

Under PERSECUTION


ISIS is persecuting and executing Christians.

It is reprehensible, but it is not the first time in human history Christians have been persecuted.

The book of Acts, which tells the story of the early church, clearly describes how the Jewish people persecuted Christians to their death. In modern times, the Soviet Union, North Korea, China and several African and Middle Eastern nations are known to persecute Christians.

Again, the Word offers perspective.

First, we consider that Jesus was the epitome of a persecuted Christian. He was humiliated over and over again despite His true glory.

His response to being humiliated is instructive. Despite who He was, He never reacted to persecution with warrior tendencies, shaming others, or retaliation. Rather, He was always looking to glorify the Father and save souls.

He accepted His role as a servant to demonstrate the character of God as love for all people, including the lost. Peter reminds us how big a sacrifice this was and calls us to do the same:
  • "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!" (1 Peter 2:5-9)

Jesus also teaches us that when we are persecuted for our faith in Him, we are blessed with nothing less than the kingdom of heaven itself:
  • "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10)

Jesus knew His followers would be persecuted. He knew how hated His message would be by the conduits of evil in our world.

So while it is awful in the visible world, the persecuted are actually building up spiritual treasures that will last an eternity. This is our source of JOY in the midst persecution. We can only do this with an eternal perspective and with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Winning IDEOLOGY


ISIS is organized around a specific ideology. It is a twisted ideology infiltrated with deceit, power, and the ambition of man.

And that's where Christianity triumphs over everything!

The Christian ideology can truly claim victory over all other ideologies. In fact, the Christian message is so powerful that many try to silence it. Men pursuing power and control understand they are unable to rule over Christians who are saved by Christ.

Christ's message beams with the principles of truth, kindness, love, grace, mercy, and goodness. His message is so powerful it has literally transformed the lives of millions and the world itself. Anyone who "gets" His message becomes a new creation exhibiting His likeness to those around them (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Thus, we can't help but think about how we get more ISIS converts or potential ISIS converts to know Jesus.

We can pray for their Damascus-road moments. After all, we are called to pray for our enemies. But we are also challenged as to how we get the hope and message of Jesus to those whose minds are easily swayed by ISIS.

This may be our biggest call to action with the ISIS crisis - spread Christ's message more and help them understand His love for them!

How different would the world be if various ISIS leaders had received Christ into their hearts long ago?

Call for FORGIVENESS


Perhaps the most challenging thing to think about with regard to ISIS is forgiveness. Of course, ISIS operatives are required to repent and ask for forgiveness for their atrocities to be truly forgiven.

But make no mistake, we should be ready to forgive... radically.

We should be ready to celebrate conversion from ISIS indoctrination into Christian salvation. We should be ready to praise God for demonstrating His power through such impossible transformation.

Where do we find the power to forgive like this?

We forgive because God first forgave us while we were still sinners. We forgive because Jesus instructs us as our Lord to forgive:
  • "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
  • "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15)

This attitude of forgiveness requires we view ourselves as the sinners we are, have gratitude for the grace God showers upon us, and have an eternal perspective about what matters beyond the visible world. We need the Spirit's help to accomplish all of them.

Conclusion


Does our faith ask us to just wait for God's justice, be happy with being persecuted, tolerate ISIS ideology, and forgive without consequences?

No, I don't think so.

Rather, our faith DOES call us to act with these core principles, looking for ways to exhibit God's glory with a supernatural response to the ISIS terror organization.

We are called to trust in God's wrath to be delivered upon ISIS and to love our enemies. We are called to find joy in the midst of persecution. We are called to spread the Christian ideology to all those whose eyes are covered with self-ambition, hatred, and evil. We are called to forgive and pray for ISIS people to have their hearts transformed. And we are called to respond in TRUTH of the Gospel AND the LOVE of Christ.

Successfully sharing Jesus' message and opening the eyes of ISIS recruits to His ways, promises, and hope is how ultimate victory will be claimed and won.

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