“Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has conducted or inspired nearly 75 terrorist attacks in 20 countries other than Iraq and Syria…killing at least 1,280 people and injured more than 1,770 others” (CNN, 03/23/2016).
As you all know by now, Brussels, Belgium was the latest attack.
What you may not know is that 65% of the Belgium population are a mix of Catholics/Christians. Jesus followers. Only 5% of the nation adhere to the Muslim religion. However, of those 5%, Belgium has produced the largest number of foreign jihadists per capita who are fighting in Syria (Washington Post, 03/22/2016). Clearly, the influence of a few can be hugely destructive (Ga 5:9).
While reading a story about these bombings my youngest daughter despondently asked, “did mommy get exploded?” She asked because Ab flew out of DIA on Monday and landed in Florida, nowhere near the demonic catastrophe. Her mom wasn’t hurt- but many others’ moms were.
Why would someone be so passionate as to murder and terrorize others who are simply visiting family, going on vacation or leaving for work?
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
Such a “verse” and at least 109 others in the Quran demand violence upon “those who disbelieve”. Hate and destruction seem to be obviously prevalent. Think about this- thousands of Muslim lives have been lost during the Hajj (Muslim’s pilgrimage to Mecca) with the total escalating every year. Sure, it’s big, about 3 million strong but a million people from the city of Denver came out to celebrate the Super Bowl Champion Broncos this year and we didn’t have one incident. How many tramplings have occurred at Billy Graham crusades? My point isn’t subtle. While many Muslims may be peaceful people, their book of beliefs is not a peaceful text.
MARKED BY A CROSS
Compare this to the Gospel and Christianity. The bible involves at least 40 authors of 66 books spanning thousands of years of oral code and 1,500 years of written prophecy. Everything leading to Jesus, everything about Jesus. The Gospel doesn’t teach believers to take the lives of others. Martyrs don’t blow themselves up in the Gospel, rather they are imprisoned by the haters and ruthlessly murdered. Beheaded. Cut in half. Burned. The Gospel doesn’t inflict such terror.
To be fair, let’s consider violence in the Christian faith. Under Roman-political influence, Christians performed heinous acts of murder during the Crusades. BUT. They never did such as fulfillment of a Gospel command. And yes, throughout our Old Testament, Children of God were commanded to judge those nations occupying their land. However, the commands were not open-ended. They were specific to the context of the moment and were never projected onto any such imperialist advancement. Ever. False prophets, invading armies, foreign cities planted within the boundary of their nation. All of them faced penalty. Stories of such historical repossession are hardly to be compared with the Quran-fueled modern terrorism.
Therefore, when the Christian faith is compared with other religions represented in our nation the similarities are impossible (or irrationally liberal).
May we also not forget the great American institutions that have a Christian origin: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the Salvation Army, countless hospitals, Goodwill and the Benevolent Empire. Google them. Study their rich Christian histories. The story of Christians making the world a better, more peaceful place is beyond volumes. Our story is because of His story- impossible without His power. Those who would demonize our faith actually live in the peace that exists because of our faith. We all live in the same freedoms the Gospel was first to declare. Before they were American, they were Christian.
Now, that may not mean we are a Christian nation. But it certainly makes undeniable the positive influence of Christians on our nation. We try and convert any and everyone who rejects our values. We don’t kill to get our way- or terrorize to get our way. We do our best to convince. That’s it. In the absence of their faith, we simply continue to be the change we so desire our community to see.
And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Matthew 10:14
But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:15-16
If we are unable to bring someone to faith, we walk away or allow them to walk away so that peace remains. That’s it.
ISIS can’t make this same declaration of faith- nor can any Muslim in accordance with the Quran. This is a Christian declaration.
Peace is the instruction. Peace is the greater command.
Peace is why 120 believers swelled to 3,000 before becoming 5,000 and now have grown to 2.2 billion strong. Christianity is the largest group of faith in the world! Under Christian leadership, the world is a better place. Under Christian leadership, terror is forbidden. But as always, the enemy rages on. Threatening our peace. Just as he did almost 2,000 years ago when death claimed victory. Peace was buried for three days. But Life beat death. Beat Hell. Beat the grave.
Then, today and forever.
On Sunday, we celebrate the greatest love the world has ever known. We celebrate freedom and peace and healing and wisdom. We celebrate Jesus among a world who needs to know Him.