I am struggling with trying to get my heart on paper after the events of the past month with the horrific beheadings of innocent American journalists, the cruelest persecutions of Christians, non-muslims and Yizidis in Iraq and around the world. I am tormented over families slaughtered, children’s heads hung on posts in playgrounds, one little boy named Andrew was literally cut in two. Women raped and enslaved by the thousands. Nearly a million people have been displaced and are running for their lives. The most appalling things are being done in the name of a god we do not recognize. Once again, I am forced to ask myself what would I do if I were given the choice of pay, die or convert. Many having no means to pay, they died rather than renounce Jesus Christ. Then I must ask myself, how do I respond in my own heart to these terrorists? What would I do?
In the midst of righteous anger, I hear my Lord on the cross and He says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”…. in this one statement, Christ demonstrates what our response to ISIS (Islamic State) should be, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.
So what should be the response of Christians to radical muslims who behead children, rape women and enslave people… Jesus set the standard. We who know the love and mercy of God must grasp what that love looks like when confronted by the most grotesque men, who hate us and our Lord. These are the same people nailing Jesus to the cross.
When everything in me says, please bomb those monsters off the face of the planet, I find myself thinking how much they are like Saul. Righteously rounding up the heretics, stoning them to death, imprisonment or death. Convert or die! And I pray, Lord raise up a Saul in the midst of this horror…. raise up someone who knows blood lust and finds God’s mercy. Who will then, with all the zeal of these radical muslims, confront them with their atrocities and offer them Jesus…. this is the absolute relentlessness of God. Our Lord gave everything to save a broken world, to redeem a humanity lost and on a path to eternal destruction. Jesus raised a standard so high, we can only reach it with the power of God within, Christ said,”Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.
Yes, God is that relentless in His pursuit of a lost and fallen world. He loves us so much that before the foundations of the world were laid out, He had decided He would come in the form of a man, suffer and die for those who would choose to live out eternity within Him.
When everything in me wants to see these monsters blown off the face of the earth, I think of a world with a long history of atrocities that pales in comparison to today. Yet, our Lord found a way to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Even as they tortured and murdered believers who would bring them the good news, Christ loved them, died for them and wanted to share His life and death with them. He still says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.
This year, in this country nearly a million babies will die in their mothers womb. Across the globe over a billion have died before their first breath. It will be sanctioned by the government and little is said about it… the greatest atrocities are often the ones that we ignore. No natural disaster, plague or man-made horror even comes close to our sins. I bring these two issues together to say we all have sin, some we consider worse than others. Is there any doubt that the Lord forgives the sin of abortion? No. I can have no doubt that He is ready and willing to forgive these barbaric religious extremists.
ISIS refuses to be ignored and our nation may need to fight them and many may die. I only ask Christians to pray, not that they get what they deserve but that they seek mercy and receive salvation through Jesus Christ. That same grace He gave to us, I pray he finds a way to give to them. The absolute relentlessness of our Lord’s love demands that we pray for our enemies and believe for their redemption.
May God be merciful, andrea