Being Christian in a Post 9/11 world

  • On February 4th, 2015 scores of Children were reported as being killed by crucifixion, buried alive and sold into sex slavery by ISIS. Included in this barbaric story is a report of a 17 year old boy crucified for 3 days by ISIS for allegedly taking photographs of their headquarters.
  • Feb 17th 2015 45 Iraqis burned to death alive in Al-Baghdadi
  • Feb 23rd 2015 21 Coptic Christians were lined up and beheaded in Libya

In less than a month Islamic extremists butchered over a hundred innocents, beheading and burning Christians after attempting forced conversions. These things are horrifying to comprehend, and invoke an all too natural response to want revenge. In times like this we find ourselves drawn to the Imprecatory Psalms, with ill-fate and curses wished upon the enemies that face us. Verses like:

“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written along with the righteous” – Psalm 69:22-28

Bring us comfort to our human need. It seems in these difficult times that many of our brothers wish to be comforted by the humanity of Psalms. I would ask though, what about the conviction of Romans?

What follows is a brief outline of how scripture says we are to act in such troubling times.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:17) says this:

“Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men”

This was a letter to individuals on how to act, and the context is important, these letters were written during the reign of Nero, one of History’s most reprehensible rulers. He was famed for hunting down Christians, impaling them on stakes, and lighting them on fire to help illuminate his garden parties. To say that this letter was given to the early church during a time of heavy persecution is an understatement. Even Paul himself would eventually find himself beheaded in a Roman city square. Yet despite this he says not only to not repay this evil with evil but also:

“Whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed and those who resist will incur His judgement” – (Romans 13:2)

So we are to do both these things, repay no evil with evil and do not resist rightful authority lest we be seen to be resisting what God has put in place. So are we powerless to stop evil? Are we expected to simply allow it overtake our nations? No.

Paul says earlier in the same letter:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”

While we like to look to the Imprecatory Psalms for justification to act violently toward our enemies it is imperative that we remember that the Psalmist was not operating under the New Covenant, the rules for him as a Hebrew were different than those following Christ. Moreover, even in those desires for revenge notice that David wasn’t asking God to empower him personally to take revenge on his enemies but was pleading for God to intervene. When it came to personal action David preached a different message:

“Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be jealous of those who do injustice. For they will quickly wither like grass, and fade like the green herbs. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and practice faithfulness”

So what do we do then? How do we overcome?

We Serve: If the Lord has placed it on your heart to sacrifice bodily for the sake of those that cannot defend themselves then know that serving militarily and domestically with the police in a martial capacity is a Godly and Christian act, it’s written:

“Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends” -John 15:13

And if we don’t serve than we support those that do and the fight they wage. Remember that the Lord has ordained those in positions of rightful authority to wield his wrath, in reference to Authority Paul gives us this:

“Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil works. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him for he is the servant of God for your good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who practices evil.”

From this it is plain to see that the intention of the Lord is that those with rightful authority execute the wrath of God upon his enemies. Not individuals taking it in our own hands. We love fearlessly: We love those that look different than us, we love those practice beliefs that our enemies practice. We embrace them even though it may mean placing ourselves at risk. Christ never said following him would be easy or provide a safe path free of storms. In fact in the book of James we read the opposite:

“My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience”

We enter this walk expecting storms, looking forward to the storms and embracing those opportunities as a chance to test our faith.

We Pray: We pray for everyone suffering, for the brave men and women that are fighting to free them from that suffering and yes we pray for the people that inflicting that suffering that they may come to know the truth of Jesus Christ and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their souls, for Jesus said:

“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your father who is in Heaven” – Matthew 5:4

Written by Lino Di Julio