I am so conflicted, my emotions running from righteous anger to a deep sadness over the state of our world today.
My sadness is that there is so much BAD news in the headlines about religion in our world. We seldom hear much about the good that religion does to make our societies safe and whole. Religion used to be the glue that held our societies together. It was the moral boundary and plum line for society’s conduct. Religion in America had much to do with America’s greatness.
That world view has disappeared into antiquity. A pluralistic America sees the Bible as fables and strict Biblical values of God, faith and family as exclusive, judgmental, and out dated. Many on the secular left even see Christianity as the cause of many of our problems.
Certainly Islamists, who equate American culture with Christian culture, see the Christian religion as flawed beyond repair. Their world view that Church and State are one, as in a caliphate where Sharia law prevails, blames Christians for American vices like pornography, child abuse, Hollywood sexism, and any other vice for which we are famous. Our religion gets a bad rap because of their misunderstanding.
Islam, as a world religion also gets abused by bad press. Well-meaning Muslims get blamed for the demonic acts of extreme terrorists groups like ISIS who use Islam as the cover for their evil deeds. This is guilt by association at its finest! Blaming Muslims for ISIS beheadings and torture is like blaming Baptists for the Ku Klux Klan or for the radicalism of David Koresh and his Branch Davidians! Let’s not call all Muslim’s to account for a group like ISIS or Al Qaeda any more than we blame all Christians for the crusades in the twelfth Century.
However my friends we live a global culture where religion is doing much harm and is out of control. Especially with this extreme interpretation of the Quran by these crazy Sunnis who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Which brings me to the reason for writing this blog: What is to be our attitude toward ISIS and others like them? Jesus told his followers to “love your enemies, pray for your enemies, and to turn the other cheek when your enemies slap you in the face.”
My question is- how will that work in the violent world we live in? “You’ve got to be kidding” is our shouted reply! Famous news analyst Bill O’Reilly said this week on Fox news, “We need to go in there and kill these crazies!” Well, last time I checked the dictionary, killing your enemies and loving your enemies are not the same thing. Right? So how is it possible for me as a serious Christ follower who believes that Jesus always speaks truth, to love these demonized Islamists who have bastardized their religion and terrorized the Middle East?
Here’s how I see it: loving my enemies is humanly impossible without the miraculous presence of Christ, the greatest lover of enemies, living in me! He did it beautifully while dying an agonizing death on the Cross. We must not allow the intolerance of others and their anger color our obligation to pray for our enemies, love them, and seek their salvation. We may despise an army of sicko’s like ISIS but we do not hate those individual soldiers within ISIS. Our great challenge is to love the sinner yet hate his sin. I personally need lots of God’s indwelling grace to do that. My religion is powerless to give me that grace and so is yours. Religion is a dead thing, while Christ in us is the power of God unto salvation for all who come in contact with us.