But I said this was not about political solutions. It is rather, about the church’s role in defeating ISIS. It is about what each individual Christian can do to defeat terrorists and any other threat to life and liberty. Four simply things:
One, make it a matter of prayer. Yes, we do pray for our country, our leaders (all of them), and our military forces. But I mean more than that. I mean reminding ourselves who the real battle is against. It is ultimately not against “flesh and blood” but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). That is, behind ISIS and other evils in this world stands the demonic. We can argue whether actual demons are involved or whether it is merely sinful human beings perpetuating sinful structures, but either way there is real evil in the world and there are spiritual forces behind these. I do not want to reduce the world’s problems to a simplistic “the devil is doing it.” We live in a complicated fallen world where we also have to consider psychological, sociological, economic, and political factors. My point is, are we willing to ask that God act in His way to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, the drug cartels, the KKK, the pornography business, human trafficking, and any other evil in the world? Yes, he may do it (most likely will) through human means. It is, however, a matter of having the right spiritual perspective. I need to learn this.
Two, make it a matter of distinction. That is, work at distinguishing who the real enemy is. We need to work at not generalizing. Not all Muslims are terrorists; not all Muslims are supportive of ISIS. In fact, Muslims are fighting against ISIS right now (and, yes, more moderate Muslim nations need to take the lead in doing so). Now, I oppose Islam as a belief system from a Biblical/theological basis. I do the same for Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, and other religions. I cannot, however, hate their adherents. Jesus doesn’t allow me to. I cannot forbid them from having the same religious liberty I enjoy. Neither Jesus nor the Constitution will allow it. Similarly, I cannot lump the adherents of any of these religions into their respective extremes. I certainly don’t want them to do that with Christians. For example, I don’t want to be thoughtlessly lumped and dumped into one of the three extremes of Christianity (right, left, and . . . something). That is:
• I don’t want to be lumped with the rigid straight-jacket theology of, for example, Westboro Baptist Church, of jingoistic nationalists, and of the KKK and white supremacists.
• I don’t want to be lumped with the gelatinous mushy theology of, for example, Rob Bell, Oprah Winfrey, Dominic Crossan, and Bart Erhman.
• I don’t want to be lumped with the manipulative materialistic theology of, for example, the prosperity teachers like Osteen, Copeland, Meyer, Hinn, and Dollar.
Worse than that, I don’t want the other world religions to look at Hollywood, the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, our ubiquitous casinos and say “that’s Christian America!” So, let’s do the hard work of distinguishing between most Muslims who do believe a false religion but are not terrorists and those who take their religion to horrible extremes. I need to work harder at this.
Three, make some friends. Bottom line, how hard have we worked at simply being friends with the Muslim down the street? If we really want to reach them for Christ, doesn’t that begin with a simple “hello.” Ouch! I need to really work harder at this.
Four, make it about first Jesus and his Kingdom. Government authorities have a responsibility to protect us and the military is charged to do just that. We may disagree and argue heatedly over the best way for them to do it (I just wish candidates would move past crowd-baiting sound bites to some real policy talk). We need more Christians involved in political and military life. We also, however, need to make sure that as believers and as His church we are seeking first and foremost the good of the Kingdom. We must be good American citizens, but we are Kingdom citizens first. Furthermore, because followers of Jesus are members of His Kingdom we cannot be ruled by fear. Yes, it’s a scary world, but we must work hard to think and be like Jesus and not be driven by the fear drenched rhetoric of politicians and media. Remember politicians are concerned about being elected and the media wants ratings at any cost. Even if what they say is mostly true, we still need to act as Kingdom citizens – praying, loving, and offering the life of Christ in attitude, word, and deed. I need work harder at this.
How wrong might I be about all this? I don’t know, but I do know I have a lot to work on.
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