You heard the President’s speech about “ISIL” or “ISIS” or whatever they call them next (you don’t want to offend the terrorists by calling them by the wrong name). He did not touch on this, but you know it to be the case: Our fellow Christian brothers and sisters are being persecuted for their beliefs. They are taxed for being Christian. Their businesses are being destroyed. The least fortunate are killed. Something must be done. What would Jesus have us do?
Let’s look what he actually did Himself: He spoke truth to power and was executed for it, “for everyone who does evil hates the light” (John 3:20). Yet, Jesus conquered the grave and by doing so was declared the Son of God with power (Rom 1:4) and has made it possible that sinners (which is you and me) may be put in right standing with God and live forever if they believe in Him.
Jesus, though he could summon armies of angels to his defense was killed for speaking the truth. Nor did he defend His Church physically, but rather they had to flee from those who wanted to arrest and execute them. Christ, by the Holy Spirit, sustained His people spiritually instead. Why? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
What if ISIS rebels took over our town or city and began to persecute us? What advice did Jesus actually give to those who would follow him?
But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name (Luke 21:12-17).
Christians are not supposed to fight back to stop being persecuted for their faith. We are to show restraint and take advantage of the opportunity we have to give a testimony to those who stand to lose much more than us if they do not repent:
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).
Some might accuse me of taking Jesus out of context. Well, how did the Apostles apply his teaching?
Peter (1 Peter 2:13-17) and Paul (Rom 13:1-7) admonished Christians to submit to a government that was much more wicked than ISIS, simply because they were much bigger. Both Apostles wrote, and were probably executed, during the reign of no other than Emperor Nero of the Roman Empire.
While ISIS beheads and tortures people that don’t convert to Islam, the Romans would do the same to those who would not worship the Roman emperor. The Romans also crucified Christians and killed them in an ancient (and actually real) version of the Hunger Games. Yet, Peter and Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit did not call Christians to right wrongs by physical resistance, but rather to submit an authority that makes ISIS look like a bunch of wimps.
Lastly, if the command of Jesus to be obedient to the point of death and the admonitions of the Apostles (who were martyred and did not violently resist their persecutors) do not convince you, I appeal to you using plain reason:
A decent primer in the futility, and complete lack of Christianity, of recent US foreign policy can be surmised in the following synopsis of history after World War II:
-The US overthrows Iran’s government in the 1950s in response to Soviet expansionism
-In response, Islamic extremists overthrow Iranian government and take Americans hostage in 1979-1981
-In response to this, the US government props up Saddam Hussein in the 1980s to act as a counterweight to Iran, Saddam creates the world’s fourth largest army as a result
-For unrelated reasons, the same US government secretly sells weapons to Iran(who is fighting Iraq) in the 1980s, so they can create a slush fund to prop up military uprisings in Latin America
-US government props up Islamic extremists in Afghanistan in response Soviet expansionism in the 1980s
-In the 90s, Iraq’s army invades Kuwait, US-led coalition defeats Iraq and creates no-fly zones and military bases in response to Iraqi expansionism
-In response to US bases in the Middle East and policy towards Israel, Islamic fundamentalists apply the financial network and training developed fighting the Soviets in the 1980s to launch International terror attacks in the 1990s, culminating in the September 11th attacks in 2001
-In response, US government invades Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s and supports the “Arab Spring” movement in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria beginning in 2011 to curb the expansion of “Islamo-fascism”/militant-Islam
-In response, Libya, Egypt, and Syria have now been overrun or taken over by Islamic fundamentalists and persecutions against Christians have increased. Tunisia appears to be an exception for now.
The formation of ISIS and the present crisis in more detail:
-In response to the US deposing Saddam, Iraq’s people, a majority Shi’ite population, elect a pro-Shi’ite government in the 2000s and continuing into today, effectively making Iraq a satellite of Iran
-Iraq’s Islamic government permits wider persecution of Christians than Saddam’s secular government had and with US support force out Sunni militants, who pour into Syria
-Sunni militants from Iraq, other nations, and Syrians begin overthrowing the Syrian government
-As result of recent US policy to manipulate affairs in the Middle East to stem terrorism, the West pursues a policy of destabilizing the Syrian government by funding and even training Syrian rebels, including ISIS. More proof of this is here, here, and here.
-Though this is not necessarily a purposeful policy, ISIS and related groups thanks to these bad policy decisions, grew in response and poured over the border into Iraq and begin persecuting groups such as the Assyrian Christians.
-Obama announces airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq
Now use your commonsense. Studying history, what is the likely result of this? ISIS is defeated, militant Islam begins to wane, Christians worship with greater safety and persecutions decrease? Or, the policy of force will backfire and persecution will increase and spread?
Christians, hear my voice: Jesus Christ warned, “Those who live by the sword die by the sword” (Matt 26:52). We must heed of the words of our Lord. What He says in His Scripture is true and we know our history.
Let it not be said of us:
Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom 3:15-18).
Paul issued this warning talking about the total depravity of unbelievers, so that “every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God” (Rom 3:19).
Why trust a government of unregenerate, unChristian men to have the right motivation behind shedding the blood of men, even wicked men in ISIS? Christian, why is destruction and misery any less in the paths of unsaved men and an unsaved President of the US government than in the hearts of terrorists that make up ISIS? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Do not lie to yourself and say that an unsaved President is anymore righteous than a ISIS member, “for everything not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). They are all sinful to their core and need a Savior.
Do you find yourself accountable to God because your feet a swift to shed blood? Do you live your life with no fear of God before your eyes? Then repent now and trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, “who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom 4:25).
We who believe in Christ must say no to a Crusade against ISIS. Today, it’s the heads of Yazidi and Christian men and women in Mosul. One day, if we live by the sword, it will end up being ours. May God have mercy and end the fighting in the Middle East. Pray for those Christians who are being persecuted and will be caught in the crossfire of this international, sinful war.