Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Christian Perspective on the ISIS Crisis

21 Coptic Christians beheaded.
Over 100 Assyrian Christians captured.

Christianity began facing oppression and violence. I mean, hey, we worship the Guy Who was betrayed by a best friend and publicly executed to scare the populace out of both following Him and resisting demanded public order. So that Christians would continue to face oppression and violence is obviously not that weird, let alone unexpected.

I could talk about how Jesus told us that persecution would come to us just as it came to Him. I could talk about the demonic spiritual realities that Christians know are at work and against which we fight. But I want us to look above and beyond those frames. Let's look for a moment at God's promise and plan at work when we see oppression and violence in the world, and when, like now, that oppression and violence is targeted forcefully against Christians.

Peter, one of first leaders of the Church, wrote in the years following Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension:

And if any of you suffers as a Christian, don't be ashamed, glorify God for this opportunity, because the time for judgment to begin starts with God's Household. And if it starts with us first, what is the fate of those who refuse to believe the God's Good News?! And if the good person is barely saved, where will the ungodly and sinful person be found?! (1 Peter 4.16-18)

As far as we Christians are concerned, God's plan in human history reveals a startling paradigm, and a brilliant hope:

# 1, Christians suffer first, then God brings His righteous indignation to bear against those who refuse to submit to the the One and Only True and Living God, the Holy Trinity: Yahweh of Armies! (ironically, ISIS, a group obsessed with forcing others to submit to them, will soon be forced to submit to the True and Living Holy Triune God. Their false god will not save them.)

# 2, Christians will be saved through the oppression and violence, while the evil of ISIS will be wiped out. Ironically, no matter how much ISIS tries to destroy Christians, and even those Christians they manage to enslave and kill, Christians who trust in Christ for eternal life will always be ultimately saved. Meanwhile, ISIS is doomed to die, to fade from the meaningful strands of human history. The judgment of God ISIS thinks they are bringing will ultimately only bring the judgment of the True and Living God upon their own head, so much so that we will one day ask, "Where are those ISIS killers? They disappeared from the land of the living."

# 3, Christians, despite being tortured, executed, hated, mocked, raped, and enslaved, still carry a compassion and framework that hopes and prays that our God would change the hearts of ISIS. As Peter speaks, almost 2000 years ago, he makes clear that it is only those who refuse to believe in the Good News God has given who face eternal judgment from God. And that is significant, because he didn't say, "our persecutors" or "whoever hated us" or "whoever killed a Christian." We as Christians still hope that a member of ISIS will turn away from his rebellion against God and come to follow Christ and thus escape eternal destruction in hell. So, if by the gracious sovereignty of Jesus the Messiah, the Person who is fully God and fully human, a person who has not turned to put their faith in Christ, even if you're a member or sympathizer of ISIS, consider the love we Christians and our God has for you, and turn to Christ.