I think sometimes we like to believe the world is basically a good place filled with good people. The Bible tells a different story: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In Western Culture, we forget how bad sin can really be. But for our Christian brothers and sisters in Northern Iraq right now, they must literally flee for their lives because of sin’s cruelty.
A growing group of militants who call themselves the Islamic State (IS) and used to call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been making the news recently for beheading children, raping and murdering women, enslaving or killing men, and seeking to wipe out entire people groups. This is mass genocide and it is a terrible tragedy.
Large populations of Christians are being killed. Another religious group, called the Yazidis, are also being wiped out. Many have three choices: Convert to Islam, die, or flee. There is plenty of news coverage on this, and you’ve probably seen how horrific it is. I’ve been torn up for the last couple days thinking about this terrible persecution. I want to help make a difference, but I wasn’t exactly sure how for two reasons.
First, I struggle with global news because It is filled with problems occurring on the other side of the world, and frankly, I can’t really do much about them. And yet, when a group like ISIS is at large we simply cannot just sit around and do nothing.
Secondly, when I read these stories, my first thought is that we need to bomb these monsters into oblivion. They are doing seriously evil things and must be stopped. But I am somewhat troubled by the words of Jesus, “love your enemy.” IS is clearly an enemy of God’s people, so how do we balance this? The church endured terrible persecution, even in the Bible, but they never seemed to fight back. How do we stop them and love them at the same time?
I’ve done a fair amount of thinking and research on these two questions. To be honest, I’m still not sure of all the answers, and would love some comments with your thinking, but here are 6 ways you can actually do something to make a difference:
1) Love your enemy:
Romans 12:14-21 is a riveting passage in which Paul calls us to love our enemies. Here are a couple verses that highlight this: 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
From this it is clear, as Christians we are called to love the Islamic State. This seems insane, and I almost feel dirty saying it, but it’s the truth. We need to realize what it means, however. Loving someone does not mean you encourage or allow them to continue in their sin. It means we point them to Jesus and his saving grace. Members of the IS are evil, but Jesus died for them, and ultimately he is the only one who can change them. You will probably never meet a member of IS, but you can pray that they would repent and believe the truth.
2) Call on the government for justice:
Can you love someone and demand justice be served against them? Of course – God does this often.
I was talking with my friend Keith and he pointed out that Romans 12 is followed immediately by a passage where Paul explains one of God’s systems for dealing with justice. Romans 13:1-4 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.“
God has instituted the governments of the world to carry His wrath on the wrongdoer. ISIS definitely qualifies as a wrongdoer, and so we should be calling the governments of the world to bring justice. The US recently approved airstrikes on the terror group, and this is certainly a start, but more is needed. I can’t pretend to be a politician and know the answers, but our leaders will listen if we unite in this cause. So contact your congressman or the White House or Parliament or whoever is in charge of your nation, and call for action! One of the quickest and easiest ways is to sign this White House petition. You can also contact your congressman directly using this website – it will take 2 minutes and you will make a difference, so just go do it!
Evan is an adventure enthusiast learning to #LiveFully in New Zealand. Read more of his story here: http://livefullyblog.com/story-evan-forester/