The minarets seem taller at the moment. Native Jews will tell you that it is traditionally common for mosques in the old city to build towers higher and higher in an attempt to stretch closer to the heavens than other religious structures nearby. Though they sometimes fail in this petty idealogical attempt at a physical metaphor for domination, when a mosque is set apart from other buildings and stands alone on a hill it can seem quite mammoth. This is precisely what the world sees in ISIS. Indeed, the minarets seem taller at the moment.
As one so called infidel is cut down after another, the eyes of the world are on black masks with guns and knives. We are primarily concerned with the politics of the situation. Many who are too politically apathetic to hide their fears are honest about their worry of a possible threat for the homeland. As a result, the leader of the free world recently commented:
ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East—including American citizens, personnel, and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.
We are right to make sure that militarily and politically the world is safe from ISIS.
However, I was recently struck by a tweet from an american evangelical pastor who commented, "Whatever Jesus said about enemies applies to ISIS." Naturally, he was instantly hit with replies from Christians probing for answers. Should we never draw a line in the sand? Should we never protect the innocent? Should we just be pacifists come what may? Fair questions I think. Nevertheless, In the midst of the firestorm believers should be as concerned about how the church should view ISIS as they are with the reactions of politicians and armies. As for myself, I find it perfectly acceptable to use muscle when necessary and think that it is well within the parameters of the BIble to protect the innocent. Disagree if you like, but husbands and fathers understand the innate knowledge that it would be objectively wrong and cowardly to allow an intruder to rape and murder their families without attempting defense. Today, though, I'd rather focus on how the church should view ISIS.
ISIS NEEDS EVANGELISM - I was horrified following the death of Osama bin Laden that some of the sweetest people I know on Facebook were reveling in the knowledge that the terrorist was "roasting in hell!" Don't misunderstand. I think some level of satisfaction at the realization that justice was done is acceptable. Yet, no Christian should be pleased with the idea of any individual spending an eternity in separation from God. We should wish only that this madman had repented before his death. The same goes for ISIS. They need Jesus.
A better picture of Jonah being sent to Nineveh is hard to imagine. What if you were sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv and received a revelation from God telling you to seek out ISIS, march into their camp and proclaim the gospel before swift judgement would come. It would be difficult not to get on a plane headed for whatever modern-day Tarshish you care to visit. Yet, this is the picture of God that we see in the Old Testament. Despite atheist claims that God was a moral monster, He desired the salvation of the Assyrians. I believe He would be pleased and glorified with the salvation of ISIS. How this could come about I do not know. However, God is active in this part of the world and for the past several years there have been many muslims converting to Christianity without even the aid of a missionary as they have been receiving visions of the Lord.
There is an end-time phenomenon that is happening through dreams and visions," said Christine Darg, author of The Jesus Visions: Signs and Wonders in the Muslim World. “He is going into the Muslim world and revealing, particularly, the last 24 hours of His life - how He died on the cross, which Islam does not teach - how He was raised from the dead, which Islam also does not teach – and how He is the Son of God, risen in power."
We receive lots of letters about people who have had dreams about the Lord, visions, even miracles,” Shaheen said. “When they watch the program, they say yes, we had a dream or a vision, and they accept Jesus as Lord. - (link here)
Whatever the possibilities are, and whatever world leaders decide, we must endeavor to view ISIS as unbelievers in need of a Savior.
ISIS NEEDS ATTENTION - Believers should respond to this crisis in part by understanding the belief structure and worldview that has resulted in this group. We are called to "be ready and willing always to give a defense to anyone who asks a reason for [our] hope" (1 Peter 3:15) and we will never be able to do so in evangelistic moments or times of persecution if we do not understand how to defend our views in light of the criticisms of our enemies.
ISIS NEEDS PRAYER - I am not a pacifist, but I am also not on the front lines of battle. Western Christians can do a great service to the war machine by praying for the swift salvation of ISIS so that this problem will be resolved with less bloodshed. If you are rolling your eyes at the thought of praying for repentance among these killers then perhaps you should ask yourself what you believe.
I am fully aware that this may all sound naive. Would I be so cavalier about the idea of seeing ISIS saved, or praying for them if my loved ones had been decapitated on the news? I cannot possibly answer that question. Still, this is the greatness of the family of God. When some are not in a frame of mind for such holy activities, others can intercede. ISIS represents some of the most wicked arbiters of Allah in the world, but God is willing that none should perish. He desires all to come to repentance. Let the minarets raise crosses.