In today’s environment, we are faced by hard decisions about those of other faiths. There was a time when the United States was filled with those who at least respected Christianity and did not try to destroy freedom of speech. Christians were allowed to call sin “sin” and were not afraid of being sued or condemned for being intolerant. People knew that Christians believed that Christ was the only cure for sin-sickness and were not offended for their stand.
I think part of the problem we have today can be traced back to earlier days. There was a time (back when Christianity was respected) that Christians were basically living what they claimed to believe. Somewhere along the way, Christianity became inconsistent. We started having preachers preach against sales on Sunday then after the service they would go out and buy gas and bread. We would have preachers speak against the evils of excess, then beg for money to buy a 65 million dollar jet. We would have Christians preach that we are not to judge as they gave prayer requests that were both judgmental and a form of gossip. Christianity has left its first love. We have joined the world in our actions, speech, and deeds. We have become lukewarm. We have failed to live the life we preach. We have allowed the world to join us so we will not appear judgmental.
One of the hypocrisies that I see today is becoming more and more acceptable. We feel the threat of radical Islam. We see the butchering they do. We hear their violent threats. We see them march in anger. We in turn become angry with them. We threaten them. We breathe hatred at them. Not only do we burn against the radicals and those who desire to destroy, we lump all who hold to Islam as terrorists. We lump all of Arabian descent as evil. We condemn them all to a godless hell. They take no pity on Christians, so we justify taking no pity on them.
Is this the response that our Father desires us to have against those outside His family? God, speaking through Ezekiel, said:
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11
God says He has no delight in the death of those who will go to hell, yet too many Christians announce anathema on all Muslims. Now, don’t get me wrong; if one dies outside of Christ, they will spend eternity in hell. But should we desire to send people to hell?
Let me share a story with you of one of the strangest battle plans I have ever read about. It was many, many years ago in the Middle East. Muhammad had not been born yet, so there were no Islamic religion. However, there has always existed those who oppose the cause and people of God. The enemies of God were seeking to destroy Israel. There was a man who had strong faith in God. He believed that God was able. He felt that God could protect much better than the army of Israel. He had been mentored by one of the greatest prophets that ever lived. He knew the power of God. One day his servant went out early in the morning (I don’t know if he went to get wood to boil coffee or went out after the morning paper.J ) and when he looked around he saw the enemy troops were surrounding their house. He knew from news reports that he and his master were goners. He ran back into the house in a panic. He told his master what was about to happen. His master remained calm and said, “Don’t you know that God can wipe them out with just a word?” Then the master prayed and asked God to open the eyes of the servant. The servant looked out again and saw not only the enemy but saw the host of God surrounding the enemy and protecting him and his master. Then it gets really interesting.
You see, the enemy was ready to attack and the prophet had no weapons, no soldiers, no safe-room, nothing but God. If all you have is God, you have all you need. The prophet now prays again. Where God had opened the eyes of the servant so he could see the angels sent to protect, now the prophet asked God to close the eyes of the enemy so they could not see anything. God did. The prophet leads the enemy into the capital city of Samaria. When they were in the city and surrounded by the Israelite army, the prophet prayed that God would open their eyes. Their eyes were opened and they realized they were dead men surrounded by the army of Israel.
The king of Israel looked at the prophet and asked if he should kill all the enemy. This would have been standard procedure in those days. Today, we also seem to think the answer is to kill all the enemy. God had a very different plan.
Instead of destroying the Syrians (interesting how ISIS is from this same region), the prophet says to give them food and water. The king provided a great feast for his enemy. Then the enemy army was sent back to Syria. As a result of this kindness, the Syrian army did not pester the Israelites again.
You can read the whole story in the Word of God at II Kings 6:14-23.
Now, for those of you who are going to say, “But that is in the Old Testament.” Christ had something to say about the way we treat our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
The word for love here is agapaō (ἀγαπάω). Yes, this is the word for God’s love for us. We are to love our enemies even as Christ loves us (Ephesians 2:4-5). God loves us when we were His enemy and even died for us. Then God says pronounce good over those who “curse” you. The word “curse” refers to wishing doom upon one. God says pray for good to those who threaten to destroy you. We are to do good things to those who “hate” us. “Hate” means “detest.” If someone totally detests us, we are to do something honorable for them. We are to pray for those who “despitefully use” and “persecute” us. “Despitefully use” means to “insult and abuse.” “Persecute” means “to pursue, molest, and mistreat.”
Hmmmm…seems like God wants us to pray and do good to those that many Christians are calling us to destroy. What would happen if through our prayers and good treatment of radical Islamists, one of the leaders accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior? Should we not mourn the death of those outside of Christ? Let’s start praying that God will open the eyes of those who sit in darkness and that He will lead them to Himself. Let’s start praying that through the sacrifice of Christians a revival will sweep through the Muslim world and Christ will be honored. Let’s pray that God will open the eyes of so called “Christians” in this country and bring them to repentance. Let’s pray for each other that we will follow Christ more closely.