If Christians Were Like ISIS
No other word is recent history brings such graphic images of hate and anger to our minds than ISIS. These people stand on their own. While they may have followers all over the world, no one who is not a part of the group views them with any kind of admiration or respect. However, if we take a step back, we can see that their devotion, their willingness to take things to the extreme for what they believe it is a rarity in the world today. They are willing to stand contra mundi in their beliefs. Unfortunately, the belief system of ISIS is one of murdering opposition, and taking advantage of people who are younger than you. So at this point you may be thinking, how on earth would we want Christians to be like ISIS.
ISIS kills for their beliefs.
If we wanted to take the President Obama approach to this (see Breakfast Speech) we might point out that Christianity does not have a very good reputation as far as not killing in the name of God. He brings up the Crusades as well as the Inquisition. These are two points in history that Christians are probably not too fond of. These things did happen. Church history is not without faults and failures, and to some extent it was a different time in the world. There is also evidence that suggests it was not always done in the name of God (as in, God did not tell Christians to do it), but in the name of man and the acquisition of power.
What we see in the media is ISIS publicly executing people in order to make a statement. They want to instill fear. While their actions may not be entirely religious based, there is no doubt in the majority of the world population that what they are doing is cruel, unusual and something that does not belong in the 21st century world. Yet here is a group of people who are willing to go to ridiculous extremes for what they believe in. Many Christians fight the will to wake up on a Sunday to go to church.
Another point to bring up is that there was a time that God did dictate that His people would kill. It does not take a Bible scholar to find passages in Scripture where God actually commands genocide. He wants to wipe the face of the earth clean of nations throughout the Old Testament. This may be part of the reason that some people thought Jesus was coming to wipe out the evil nations that had infected the world. However, this is not what Jesus did. Instead, he came in order to give everyone a chance, no matter who they were or what their background was. It was no longer God’s mission to remove nonbelievers from the world, but instead to extend love to all people and offer them a chance at salvation. He was opening the doors of Heaven wider than ever.
ISIS stands up for their beliefs.
The people of ISIS serve as great examples of what it means to stand up for your faith. They know that they are going against the powers of the world, and yet they do not give up. They continue in their terror. For them, there is no point in giving up because even in death they are going to be blessed for their willingness to stand up for their beliefs. Becoming a martyr is one of the greatest things that can happen to them. ISIS is not afraid to die for what they believe in.
Ironically, this is something that Christianity shares with ISIS. A willingness to go so far as to die for your faith is the kind of faith that God wants His followers to have. Martyrs are praised in the Christian church throughout history. There are Christians in the world that are dying for their faith (well, at times the people that ISIS is killing…) around the world. In America, we are somewhat numb to the idea because people are not dying because they have a faith in Jesus Christ (although, it has happened on our soil in fairly recent history Columbine). However, this does not change the fact that this is the kind of faith that we are supposed to have. A faith that no matter who we are standing up against we are willing to boldly proclaim that we still believe that God is who he says he is and Jesus is his son. Even if what we are standing up against is a barrel of a gun.
Christians are not ISIS.
True Christians understand that there is a very clear difference between themselves and ISIS. This fundamental value is supposed to be love. ISIS is not displaying unconditional love when they are killing people in front of a camera. While I am not going to go so far as to say that all Christians are supposed to be pacifists, I do believe that the time for killing our enemies of the faith is over until Christ returns. I believe that Christians should stand up and fight against those who oppress and kill the weak (ahem, ISIS), but they are not supposed to go killing people in the name of God because they do not believe in God (The Machine Gun Preacher is an interesting movie in this conversational vein). Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not trying to glorify or justify anything that ISIS has done. Neither am I saying that Christians are like ISIS or should be like them in most any way except one – their devotion to their beliefs. We need Christians who are willing to go to the same lengths that ISIS is willing to go to. We need Christians who have a faith that is so strong in God that they are willing to die for him and do anything for Him. What would happen if the American Government suddenly made it illegal to worship God? Would we crumble and abandon our faith? Or would we take a stand like Daniel did knowing that by simply praying by himself he could be thrown into the lion’s den? ISIS is not afraid of the lion’s den. Are we even willing to stand up for our faith in front of our coworkers and friends? Our passion for Christ should mimic the passion that ISIS has for whatever it is they are saying they believe in.
This is a concept that I have thought about for a very long time. I think it actually began around the time of the September 11th attacks. As an almost teenager I could see that these people were so into their faith that they were willing to fly a plane into a building and kill tons of people. I knew right away that was the kind of faith that God wanted us to have for him. Not to actual do the violent things, but to be so in love with Him that we would be willing to do anything no matter how crazy it might seem or how dangerous it might be for us to do. Let’s face it, in the Bible God has people do all kinds of crazy and dangerous things to show their devotion to him. Ask yourself this, are you willing to do whatever it takes for your faith? If not, why? After all, the Bible says:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.