In preparation for attending a three-month Bible college in Wales* in January 1985, I read through Operation World‘s 1984 book. I recall reading its section on militant Islam, and feeling not quite certain whether or not I believed its claims that Islam sought world domination. Sure, I knew Muslims worship a false god, but the Muslims I’d known back in regular college showed great respect for people of other religions.
Yesterday’s bombings in Paris reminded me again, as have all the terrorist attacks beginning with 9/11, of reading Operation World. While not every Muslim supports jihad, the teachings of the Quran certainly do. Matt Slick’s article on Holy War on the CARM website demonstrates that the Quran indeed advocates war against those who don’t embrace Islam.
Of course Christians must show love to all who disagree with us, praying with sincerity that the Holy Spirit might open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel. When groups like al Qaeda and ISIS murder innocent people in the name of Allah, we must remember Christ’s directive in His Sermon on the Mount:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~~Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)
As we obediently seek His grace to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, however, we should be clear that we have very real enemies who actually intend to persecute us. Incidents like yesterday’s horrific attack in Paris remind me that Christianity will always draw hostility from a world that hates Jesus.
Sadly, evangelicals are so distracted by our attempts to compromise with the world and our efforts to remake God into our own image that we aren’t really prepared for serious persecution. (And people, Starbuck’s holiday coffee cup design is hardly persecution!) We need to get clear Biblical teaching that equips us to love our enemies without compromising God’s Word. Yesterday’s Paris bombings remind me that real persecution only gets closer and closer to American shores.
*Living Waters Bible College only ran for four years, closing its doors in 1987.