Below is a response I wrote to a Christian who sent me yet another email about Muslims. This man and I are supposed to meet and discuss the issue of how we should respond to the refugee crisis in the Middle East and what our posture toward Muslims should be. I suggested we meet rather than attempt to share our thoughts via email, however, his recent email elicited my response below - I felt I needed to say something.
Jesus was not mentioned in the email he sent. That is true for every email someone sends me attacking Muslims, or Americans who they don't agree with politically. If Jesus isn't our center of gravity then what is the point for the Christian? This poison has infiltrated the professing church to the place where many Christians are not known for following Jesus but rather for following political agendas. We have lost our heavenly identity and by doing so have become no earthly good - that is, we cannot bring the perspective of our Lord Jesus Christ to the conversation because we no longer know the Scriptures or the Spirit of our Lord, we are like James and John wanting to call down fire from heaven on those with whom we disagree. Jesus told them that they didn't know of what spirit they were - such is the sad case of a significant element of the professing church in the US.
I face this temptation regularly, and I must choose Jesus, I must put Him first and last - Jesus and only Jesus.
I read what you sent, but I don't see anything about Jesus, about sharing the Gospel, about loving our enemies, about dying for Jesus Christ. This is our calling. And as for the reference to Armageddon, well...perhaps we had better think about how we should live in the midst of a chaotic world, amidst persecution - we are called to lay our lives down (Romans 8:36 and many other places).
Anything that distracts us from living in Jesus Christ, anything that distracts us from sharing the Gospel, that is what we ought to fear...and right now many professing Christians are not fearing the Lord, they are playing into man-made fears.
You see, evil is evil, in whatever form it takes - and we have enough evil here without importing it...but as long as the domestic evil doesn't bother us we tend to look the other way.
And then if our God is sovereign, then perhaps we should pay attention to what He is doing - the prophets make it clear that our Lord rules over the affairs of men and that He uses nations to judge nations - we have seen this in the book of Judges [note to blog reader, our men's group is studying Judges], but it appears even more strongly in the prophets. Jeremiah was thrown in prison and then in a well when he pointed out to the king of Judah that God was judging the nation for its sins - since to whom much is given much is required perhaps we should pause and consider our national sins and the great light of the Gospel that we have rejected.
But my main point in all of this is that I don't see Jesus. We are Christians before we are anything and our call is not to kill for Jesus but to die for Jesus and others, and that includes our enemies.
The Early Church brought their enemies to Christ. There is not one instance that I'm aware of when the Early Church retaliated against its enemies. There is not one passage in the New Testament that counsels that we retaliate against our enemies (I'm not talking about the state, I'm talking about the church).
Why is it that professing believers in the United States think they deserve a free pass when it comes to persecution? We have brothers and sisters throughout the world suffering for the Gospel, but as long as it stays across the oceans we tend not to be concerned.
It is about Jesus, always about Jesus. If our lives are filled with fear and hate and vitriol we will not be prepared when we are faced with major decisions for we will have become conditioned not to love, not to lay our lives down, but to preserve ourselves and our things.
The conversation should not be about Islam, that is a distraction, it should be about Jesus and sharing Him with all peoples - that is the Great Commission, that is our mandate. How can we demonstrate the love of God to Muslims and all others - Jesus died for them, will we?
Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20...and other passages).
If I say that I will die for Jesus, then I must also say that as Christian I will not kill for Jesus.
Much love...looking forward to our conversation,