Jihadi John to Apostle John
Recently the world discovered the identity of the man in the videos that ISIS has been putting out detailing their savagery towards mankind. There is now a bounty on his head for his capture. Many want to see this man dead, and I do totally understand their thoughts. The barbaric actions of ISIS deem the actions of world leaders to put a stop to this nonsense.
What saddens me though is the quickness of some of my fellow Christians to want to go in and drop bombs upon these people. I get the anger and the outrage of people concerning what ISIS is doing. I certainly am not, for one instant, condoning what they are doing. What I am advocating is that we Christians pray for these men and women that are caught up in the ideology of ISIS.
I am reminded of Saul the Pharisee. He, just like Jihadi John, was a religious extremist.
I realize that that statement may offend a lot of conservative Christians but nevertheless it is a true statement. Saul was persecuting Christians to the point of killing them all in the name of God. He believed that he was doing justice by God in ridding the world of these wayward Jews who followed this condemned criminal named Jesus.
But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. (Acts 8:3)
For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. (Gal. 1:13-14)
Saul was on a mission to destroy this people who were, in his eyes, defiling the very ways of Judaism. His religious understanding would not tolerate this behavior from them. So, in the name of Judaism and God, Saul would imprison the Christians or have them killed. He stood by and held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen.
But, one day he had an encounter with the Lord of these people. He had an encounter with a Person larger than his belief system. He had an encounter with the very One that he was persecuting.
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)
And Jesus turned Saul into an apostle to take His message to the world.
What would happen if Jihadi John, and all the others like him, had an encounter with this Jesus that changed Saul from a religious extremist into a mighty apostle? What would happen if Jesus appeared to these men and women revealing the real purpose for their lives?
What if we spent more time praying for them than talking about dropping bombs on them?
I don’t know what it’s going to take to stop ISIS. I tend to believe that it very well could take force to stop these extremists. However, that’s not for the Church to decide. That’s for God to decide. Our job is not to kill our enemies, but to pray for them. Our job is not to condemn them to hell; our job is to love them in spite of what they are doing. God has established governments to deal with situations like this.
for it (government) is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Romans 13:4)
I know that this isn’t an easy thing to do. As an American my first response is to just go show our force and push them back into whatever little holes they came out of. But I must always keep in mind that I am a Christian first, an American second. I am not an American Christian. I am a Christian who is an American. In other words, my Christianity isn’t defined by my American ideologies. My American ideologies have to be shaped by my Christianity.
In my understanding of Jesus’ teachings I am to forsake violence and pursue peace. I am to leave government matters up to the Lord who establishes governments for His purposes and direction.
I am in no way saying that we should sit idly by and do absolutely nothing. Something must be done. What I am saying is that Jesus died for each one of these radical extremists. He cares for them. He loves them. They have great value to Him. And they can become apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers with a message to carry if they could just get a revelation of who Jesus really is.
That’s our primary mission . . . to pray that each one of them will have a revelation of the love of God for them. My mission is to pray that Jihadi John will become Apostle John. God is able to do this.