Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Christian Response to Adversity

If we listen to most evangelical "conservative" Christians, it seems we are supposed to believe that militant Islam is the greatest threat facing America and the church today. Some, like President George W. Bush and Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, see our "war on terror" as a holy crusade against evil. As Boykin put it, "The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."

Now, I don't want to get into a detailed analysis of our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reason I raise this issue is because I have heard some Christians talk about military action as if it were a legitimate means of advancing the gospel of Christ.

John Piper has some sobering words:
    The cross is our life and our joy and our only hope of fellowship with God. Therefore it is a great sadness when militant Islam calls all Muslims everywhere to fight the cross. But it is not new. Acts 9:1 said that Paul was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," and Jesus said that "the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2). It is breathtaking to read the transcripts of Al-Qaida tapes giving thanks to God for the successes of their killing.

    My greatest longing in response to this enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians. My concern is that as the church we distance ourselves from this kind of response and focus on the truth that we will never spread the Christian faith by the sword. Some Muslims may kill to spread their faith. Some Christians have. But it is not the way of Christ. It is not the way of the cross.

    Let us heed what Peter said, "But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:20-21). Militant Islam may call the Muslim world to arms against the cross. But the followers of the cross will never take up arms to proclaim or defend Christ. We will die to make him known. But we will not kill to make him known. And even if there be but a remnant of Christ-followers left, the Lamb himself will stand forth at the end and win.
Read the full article here.

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