Christians can’t even get the easy part right — the part where we take in those being tormented by ISIS. How are we ever going to get the hard part right?
If your enemy (ISIS) is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty,
give him water to drink. Proverbs 25:21
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemy (ISIS),
do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27
Bless those (ISIS) who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong. I Thess 5:15
But I tell you, love your enemies (ISIS) and pray for those (ISIS) who persecute you. Matt 5:44
I saw an interview with Christiane Amanpour this morning. She’d been talking to United States Generals. They said it was too late to do anything but wipe ISIS out — to kill ISIS loyalists. Too late to take measures that would de-radicalize them. Measures like meeting their physical and spiritual needs. Measures like teaching them a better way.
Perhaps these generals are right. But if they are right, it is because Christians have failed. We have long failed to feed, to water, to love, to clothes, to bless, and to pray for ISIS. We have failed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. We have failed to demonstrate the way of Jesus showing ISIS that we have an unconditional love for them.
I am a progressive Christian, but I am also evangelistic (not evangelical). By that I meant that I believe the way of Jesus is the way of salvation – not so much the “you go to heaven when you die” salvation, but the “Jesus saves us right now” salvation. Jesus saves us right now by reconciling us both to God and to each other. Jesus teaches us the way of peace, love, and justice. I believe that if there is any hope for this world, it will be by following the way of Christ.
Many progressives disagree with me on this. Many believe all religions are basically the same and that we should not try to teach others about our Jesus – and instead, just let them be. I think this is where progressive Christianity fails. It is where we let women suffer in cultures where they are basically slaves. It is where we let those with alternative sexualities be tortured and killed. It is where we let children go without all their precious needs being met. It is where, in the name of being tolerant, we let evil roam wild.
While we are certainly called to be respectful of other religions and cultures, we are also called to demonstrate through our actions and words that Jesus’s way is something radically spectacular. World changing. Shalom bringing.
ISIS is a huge Christian failure, because Christians have chosen to withdraw and forget about demonstrating the message of Jesus to the world. Some Christians have chosen to fail because they are too interested in their own comfort. Others have thought that seeking out ISIS (and other radicalized religious groups) and teaching them about Christ’s great love for them would have dishonored their religious views. Either way, it is catastrophic failure. Even St. Francis would agree with me on this. He taught that true peace happens when both sides live in the way of Christ. He was evangelistic too traveling far and wide to demonstrate the love of Jesus. St. Francis wrote:
“The true servant unceasingly rebukes the wicked, but he does it most of all by his conduct, by the truth that shines in his words, by the light of his example, by all the radiance of his life.” — St. Francis.
Is it too late to do anything but kill every ISIS loyalist we can find? Or do Christians still have an opportunity to be the hands and feet and words of Jesus to them? How powerful is our Christ? Please Comment.
April describes herself as a Red Letter Christian who writes about scripture and spiritual disciplines. See her latest book, James in the Suburbs: The Disorderly Parable of the Epistle of James. Great for an individual read or group Bible studies! You can follow her blog by clicking on the three stripes in the upper right hand of this page and scrolling down.