A letter to my Christian brothers and sisters, on ISIS

  
Let me tell you a story? Paint picture, if you will. Right now, there is a large group of people, with a well-known name, and a widespread reach. They have found something they don’t agree with, someone they don’t like. They believe that what that someone is doing is wrong, and they think that their beliefs are better, that they are better people, even perhaps a higher level of humanity. They are are outraged at what they see, and want to capture, torture and kill, and even going so far as to call for the heads of the people with whom they are angry. 

Read that carefully. Maybe read again? Who does that make you think of? I’m guessing, your answer is probably the well-known Islamic rooted terrorist groups, known as ISIS and Jihad and the Taliban. But you would be wrong. What I just described is the reaction I have seen over the past few days from many people, many Christians, some of whom I know and love and respect, but who are out raged at what they see going on in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Israel and other parts of the world. Some of them have made public statements saying that they wish that THEY could have the heads of the brutal maniacs that are terrorizing the Middle East and parts of Europe. Citing their deep evil hearts, and barbaric actions, begging for a chance to “have at them”.

I will admit, that for a brief moment, I was one of them. It makes me sick to my core to see what these evil men are doing to this world. To see them recruit children and indoctrinate them into carrying out their evil wishes across the world. Seeing them slaughter men women and children of many races and religions, anything that is not them. I would rationalize it by saying, “God says,

‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you.’ (Like 6:31; Matt 7:12)

They had it coming.” But see, that verse applies to believers and how we should treat other people, not to the barbaric savages who are doing these evil deeds. See, God also says,

“Vengeance is mine saith the Lord” (Heb. 10:30; Rom. 12:19; Deut. 32:35) 

And what about Christ’s word about  retaliation and loving our enemies?

“38You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:38-48‬ ‭ESV‬)

Are we loving our enemies? Are we forgiving them, praying for them? Are we not just asking God to end the evil, but also to save their souls? We would be committing a grave sin of putting ourselves in the place of God if we sought to take vengeance against the evil around the world out of our own might and our own will. Now, please PLEASE do not get me wrong. I. Love. Our. Military!! I have great respect for the man and woman who leave everything to defend total strangers against the evil of this world, and stand up for their country and what they believe. Military defense of nations, and wars are not only talked about and commanded in the Bible, but God also blessed battles and soldiers and armies. There is, most definitely, a place for that. A place for defending the widows in the orphans, for standing up for your country and what you believe. But, it is to be carried out under the authority of the government and by the military. If we as individuals take our anger and rage against what others are doing into our own hands and seek drastic harm and death to them, and we become absolutely no better than the barbaric savages that we are angry with. Our military is made to defend our country, and also our allies and others who are less able to defend themselves. That is how our country, and the world was designed.

The moment we throw all of that away, take things into our own hands, do not trust in the powers that be, and especially do not trust in God’s perfect will, in His perfect way, in His perfect time WE. HAVE. NOTHING.

Love is Patient, Kind, and Color Blind

Love is Patient, Kind, and Color Blind

Let me tell you a story? It’s kind of different than most, in that, it is not purely truth, or hypothetical, it is a combination there of. If it sounds a bit confusing, just keep reading, and hopefully it will make sense soon, and also make you think.

I read a news story online today, about a 14 year old Muslim boy named Ahmed Mohamed, who “Enjoys tinkering with electronics”,  and build a fully functioning clock, by hand, by himself. He then proceeded to proudly bring it to school to show his teachers and classmates what he had accomplished. However, instead of pride, enthusiasm, and encouragement, he was met with questions by school officials and police, search and secure of his personal belongings at school, suspension, and ultimately being taken from school in handcuffs, all because his teacher personally decided that Ahmed Mohamed’s clock looked too much like it COULD be a bomb. This child, so proud of his work, who could be a genius, if not the makings of a brilliant engineer, was harassed, questioned, and punished for his intelligence, all because of his race and religion prompting discomfort to his teacher.

This is the true part, so let’s get a little hypothetical here, and probe how this could have gone for any other child in his class, you see, he wouldn’t have been the only one profiled these days for his actions. Let’s see how this could have played out for them, and before you try to judge the suggestions, take a moment and really think about it, and compare it to all the stories we’ve been hearing. Pretty sure they will sound painfully familiar.

So, here we go. All these children have, hypothetically completed the same project, and this is the subsequent result.

Another child in the class, a blonde girl, named Sally, who had thus far been a pretty average student, completed the project, of building a fully functioning clock, by herself, by hand. She is questioned, and suspected of cheating, because there is no way she could have done that herself!

A third, an African-American young man, named De’Quan, achieved the same; he is not only accused of cheating, but of stealing the parts to build the item in question.

Next, a young Latino boy named Juan shows his work. He however, is completely forgotten personally, and turned in to a statistic, in the school’s attempt to praise their own ability to educate the underprivileged immigrants of America, illegal or otherwise.

And lastly, a brown haired, blue eyed Caucasian boy named Steve displays his masterpiece, and immediately is given an A, enrolled in the Honor’s Society, given academic scholarships, hailed a genius and goes on to attend an Ivy League University and become a renowned engineer.

Now, let me ask you, does this sound about right? Is this not how the mentality of America has become? Now, does this sound fair? I hope not! Our society has become so quick to judge someone’s beliefs, views, mental capacity, and even human rights, based merely on race and religion. We are far too quick to elevate one and dismiss another for the same behavior simply based on what they look like.

Let’s take a moment to see what The Bible has to say about this, shall we?

Acts 17:26 (ESV) “And he made from one make every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place…”

When God spread the people across the earth from Babel and confused their languages in Genesis 11, He didn’t change anything about their humanity, their intelligence, or their abilities, not even immediately change their skin color; that came later through genetic mutation. All He did was mix up their languages.

Throughout the Bible, both in the old and new testaments, God made it clear that, though there were many tribes, tongues, nations, people groups, that does not matter to Him, or ultimately to us in the end. To Him, the only difference is if we are followers of Christ or not. In the end there will be no black or white or Asian or Latino or any other race or ethnicity, or language; only those who have believed in Him, and those who haven’t. So let’s worry less about what people look like, or where their ancestors came from; if God doesn’t even do that, what right have we to do so?

So, instead, let’s focus more on looking around us and all the opportunities to show Christ’s love to ALL people, no matter what. We have the blessing of being surrounded by so many different types of people in this country, and if we look around our circle of life and only see friends, or acquaintances who are a certain color, or age group, or religion, then we need to take a hard look at our lives. Are you willing to go out and play some ball with those black kids on the corner, or do you watch them wearily out the window expecting trouble? Do you say hi to that Muslim girl you see at the grocery story every week, or do you sheepishly look away? Are you willing to chat with the bag boy at Publix who has Downs Syndrome, or do you brush him off and walk away? Do you thank that Police officer at the next gas pump for their service, no matter their age, race or gender, or do you ignore them and go on your way?

We ALL need to take a close look at how we look at those around us.  We are told that everyone is our neighbor. And further, that we are to love our neighbors, and lastly we have laid out for us exactly what that love entails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13 (ESV) “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…. ….So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”