"because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms"
During this past week, there has been much talk within my own family, on Facebook amongst friends and in the news, about two Christians who are facing the death penalty from Muslim governments for believing in Jesus - Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of Iran and Asia Bibi of Pakistan. In addition, the news is full of reports about the killing of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
How should we respond as Christians and Americans? What response would glorify God?
I believe we can find the right response if we look to our Lord Jesus as an example. He modeled for us both tenderness and strength. These two qualities, living within us and working in agreement, are what we need to respond to the Muslim question.
"Christ Jesus is the artist. He created the world with colors and textures human artists have tried for thousands of years to imitate. Christ Jesus is the musician. He gave the angels their voices. Christ Jesus is the tenderhearted, ministering to our every need.
Christ Jesus is also the warrior, forever leading us in triumphant procession, if only we will follow
(2 Corinthians 2:14). In our great weakness, He is strong. Christ Jesus is the blessed embodiment of both characteristics. He has set an example before us of true manhood and true womanhood," (from A Heart Like His by Beth Moore).
We must model the tenderness of Christ toward the Muslims. Each Muslim was created in God's image, tenderly and lovingly by His own hand. He desires their salvation. He loves them and asks each of us to love them, to desire good for them, to befriend them and share with them the good news of salvation.
Ultimately, the battle is not for freedom in America or anywhere else on this earth. It is ultimately for the freedom of each soul. Hatred and anger will only close doors to the Muslim world that need to be left open if they will ever have the hope of finding Christ as their Savior.
We must also model the strength of Christ toward the threat of an Islamic take-over of our nation and the world. When I survey the evil that is done in the name of this religion it chills me.
I believe that Satan knows his time is short. Christ will return in triumph and strength, but in the mean time, the devil is throwing every kind of evil and stronghold he can at the human race, and much of it is embodied in Islam. We must, as a nation, recognize this evil and do all we can to stop the spread of this religion to our own land and the other nations.
Yet, how do we show the strength to stop this evil? Is it ultimately through our military might? I don't think so. Take Afghanistan and Iraq for an example. Has our military presence in these two nations truly stopped the spread of Islamic fundamentalism? Are the people any more free to choose Christ as their Savior or do they still live under the fear of honor killings and other such violence if they leave Islam?
Do we kill them all? Does that really stop Islam? No...more and more young men, angered by loss and brainwashed by Imams, will step forward to fill the shoes of those who died in jihad. And ultimately, is that victory in Christ...killing human enemies? That was the mistake made by the Crusades.
The only way to truly stop the spread of Islam is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, showing strength toward Satan and gentleness toward the Muslims. We must win them with the love of Christ.
That is how the Romans, Vikings, Goths, African and Asian tribes, Irish Druids and so many others were turned from their murderous ways. It was with strength toward Satan and tenderness toward the individuals. They were stopped with the love of Christ.
We must model gentleness and strength toward any enemy in this world. It is not the way of weakness but the way of victory.