Fighting God’s Enemies

6 03 2017

  Religion can bring out the best or the worst in mankind. It brings out the best, for example, when we follow the Great Commandment to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves; or as similarly commanded in Islam, habluminallah, habluminannas.

Religion brings out the worst in mankind when we decide that we need to fight those people that we believe are God’s enemies—as though God is incapable of dealing with them Himself!

By bombing an abortion clinic, vandalizing a mosque, gunning down people in a gay night club, or honor-killing a family member who chooses to change her religion, we have left the most basic teachings of our faith in order to “help” God bring judgment against those we disapprove of.

In spite of all our efforts at peacemaking, such tragedies still happen—such as the kidnapping of Pastor Raymond Koh in Malaysia.

On February 13, in broad daylight, three black SUVs forced Mr. Koh’s white sedan to the side of the road and masked men abducted him, while five other vehicles operated by masked men kept traffic away from the kidnapping. But while the police were slow to respond,  CCTV footage from a nearby building appeared on social media recording the entire event.

The Koh family offered a reward for any information about Raymond, but for the last three weeks there has been only silence—no ransom demands or news of any kind. The Koh family is not rich enough for this abduction to be financially motivated. The only logical conclusion is that it was religiously motivated.

This is not how the Prophet Muhammad treated Christian pastors! By referring to the Ashtiname of Muhammad, or the Charter of Medina (and its modern parallel The Marrakesh Declaration), it’s clear that Muslims were commanded by their Prophet to not only establish religious freedom for minorities, but even to protect them.

A survey of how Jesus treated those of other religions leads us to a similar path of peace. When dealing with non-Jews such as Romans, Syrians, Canaanites and Samaritans, this is what Jesus DID: healed, delivered, told them to share their miracle stories, revealed himself as Messiah and King, praised them for their faith, praised them for exhibiting the righteousness God wants, and announced they’d feast in heaven with the earlier prophets. This is what Jesus DIDN’T do: follow his own culture’s prejudicial norms, condemn, rebuke, warn of judgment or hell, argue theology or debate, quote the Scriptures, explain the Gospel unless they asked, or ask them to change anything. He certainly didn’t condone any violence against them, teaching his followers by his own self-sacrifice to overcome evil with good.

The greatest barrier to peace today is not any particular religion—it is misguided religious followers that pursue hatred and violence in the name of God. [This is what my novel A VIOLENT LIGHT is all about!]

Please pray with me for the speedy release of Pastor Raymond Koh, and for his captors to return to the most basic tenets of their faith—habluminallah, habluminannas.

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Responding to ISIS

3 03 2015
ISIS slave market

ISIS slave market

ISIS continues to dominate the news headlines, from this week’s cover of Time magazine to the brutal images we see nearly every week on the national news. The closer we feel to the victims, the more personal our grief and the more urgently we want to respond.

If you are Japanese, the beheading of journalist Kenji Goto must have horrified you. If you are Catholic, the kidnapping of Iraqi nuns and orphans must have been awful to imagine. If you are a Shiite Muslim, the destruction of mosques and mass murder of your Shiite brothers and sisters must deeply wound your soul. If you are a woman, the kidnapping, torture, enslavement and rape of young women must break your hearts. And if you’re a Christian, the grisly scene of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded on a Libya beach last month must have brought a desperate cry of prayer to your lips.

How should we respond to ISIS? Perhaps God will lead each of us to respond in our own authentic and creative way. Angelina Jolie has responded by posting video interviews with the victims to increase global awareness. Various NGOs and charities are stepping up the relief effort, and you can donate through them—check out these three:

Cradle of Christianity Fund (CCF)  http://www.cradlefund.org/

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME)  http://frrmeamerica.org/

Samaritan’s Purse  http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/iraq-crisis-response/

The Pope’s response last week was to pray for the victims. But here’s an even more extreme response—check out this 8 minute video posted by an Egyptian evangelical church—their response is to pray for ISIS! The pastor states, “Satan is our enemy, not ISIS.” You’ll see the actual family members of the Coptic Christians who died talk about forgiveness and praying for ISIS soldiers to see the light. Now THAT’S a response that Jesus would be proud of! Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/ElTWcbCrY7g

The 21 Egyptians were true martyrs in the Christian tradition—they died for their faith; unlike other traditions where a martyr could be one who dies while killing others for their faith. They inspire us to follow the Bible’s teaching from Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

For those Muslims reading this post who find that an attractive alternative to vengeance, guess what? The Qur’an offers similar guidance in Surah Fussilat 41:34 “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” Repel evil with good? Win your enemy to become your friend? Yes, there are many Muslims who abhor how ISIS interprets the Qur’an, because like any religion, individuals choose what verses to base their lives on. Thank God for all those of every religion who choose peace and forgiveness.

For me personally, as an author, you’ll read my response to ISIS in the sequel to my first novel. This week I finished the first half of the first draft. I appreciate your prayers that this book will present a response to ISIS that both glorifies God and makes a difference in how we face this formidable issue.

I’d love to hear YOUR response to ISIS! Tell me what authentic and creative response God is partnering with you to do!