The Gospel Tells us to Fight Death with Life and DeathWednesday, August 23, 2006
The video links I watched this morning were sobering. Videos, clips, sound bites, and quotes can all be the same much of the time - quoting people out of context to make our point. That's dishonest. I don't know for sure if that's what's happened here, but given what I hear, I'm sure it's not. In Children of the Future Jihad, Mahmoud Amadinejad and Nuclear Threats, and Suicide Cartoon, death is the greatest victory for a Muslim...death, that is, in martyrdom while destroying the enemies, whether they be America or Israel.
I can see, from a fleshly standpoint, how so many conservative, republican Christians would rise up in anger against such violence. It is wrong. It is sinful. It is outrageous. It must be stopped. But the talk show hosts fume with fleshliness so that the only response preached creates an environment of hatred, retaliation, and vengeance. The conservative, republican, right-winged "Christian" media is teaching us to respond with anti-gospel sentiments and actions towards our enemies. I'm afraid they and those who listen to them are fueling a third-world war.
It becomes clear to any thinking person that killing a Muslim accomplishes nothing. Those who think, eat, drink, and live jihad are like ants...where one is stamped out, twenty more storm out of the hole. Their theology and philosophy are engrained upon their hearts so that they cannot be stopped with equal killing force. It would literally be impossible to accomplish this. Yet, ironically, if they are allowed to commit their jihad against others, those others must be defended with equal force. It is unethical to allow the murder of an innocent person at the hands of a cruel killer.
So if they cannot be stopped with the same equal killing force (because it only bolsters their belief in their cause), yet if they must be stopped with equal force (in order to protect the lives of innocent people), how do cross-centered, gospel-loving Christians respond?
We fight their death, while embracing our own.
We fight their death, with the life Jesus promised.
Christians, like Muslims, are not afraid to die. We too are taught that in death there is victory over sin and death. Jesus taught us to expect it, reminding us that if the Master suffered, the servants will suffer also. And Jesus' theology is found in Paul, who himself wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that the gospel and particularly the resurrection of Jesus Christ should affect us in such a way that we look foolish to the world for the things we do. And indeed we would be foolish were it not for that gospel truth. Kill us and we'll simply rise from the dead.
Yet Christians do not fight with weapons of this world, do we? We are fighting against the enemy behind this radical theology of Islam. We must look beyond their angry, grimmaced faces to the enemies who are causing their mindless murder: sin and Satan. Both sin and Satan are working in complete harmony together, the one feeding off the other, in order to create a world-wide fighting force that Christians in the free-world must face one day. While Christians in Sudan and Chechnya face this threat, Christians in first-world countries are largely unaffected.
When they come for us...when they come against us, how will we fight them? The gospel teaches us to fight them with life and death. Live a gospel-centered life before them.
- "For to this you have been called, because Jesus Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).
- "Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (Matt. 5:39-41).
- "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:44-45).
- "Repay no one evil for evil" (Rom. 12:17a)
- "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God..." (Rom. 12:19)
- "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, given him something to drink...(Rom. 12:20).
- "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21).
Show them love and compassion in return for their evil...treating them with kindness when facing a beheading...displaying gentleness when they threaten to cut us to pieces...praying for them because they don't know what they're doing (like Jesus and Stephen) while they are praying to Allah for the strength to kill us.
And should the time come when we in the free West are threatened with death yet have in hand the opportunity to defend ourselves, may we remember that they are not ready for heaven, but we are. May we fight death with our death, entrusting that our God may yet give them another opportunity to repent so that they would not perish.
While the blood that a Muslim spills only fuels more bloodshed...the blood that a cross-centered Christian spills only fuels forgiveness, repentance, change, transformation, love, and overall, the gospel.
Teach the gospel to your children while they teach jihad to theirs. And may they be able to recite the truth of the gospel more loudly than Islamic children recite theirs. For in the end, that only thing that will separate the willing death of our children for their Savior from the willing death of the Muslim for Allah is the truth for which our children die. It is the true truth. They believe in a truth that teaches their entrance to heaven following a violent death experienced during murder. We believe in a truth that teaches our entrance to heaven following a willing and loving and forgiving death experienced during a murder. God cherishes the latter and not the former. And that is the gospel truth because our Savior said it, lived it, and died it.