There has been a lot of talk recently about ISIS and the Christians that are being persecuted, tortured and killed. There has been a lot of talk about the evil that lies within. A lot of tears have been shed and fear has been raised about where our world is coming to. Those in other countries worry about their proximity to the threat and those in America worry about evil at their door.
Can I be honest? None of those are my response.
Don’t get me wrong, I am saddened by the events. But not because there are Christians losing their lives for the sake of the gospel, but instead because there are families loosing loved ones. I am not afraid of the evil at my doorstep, because the evil has been there every day. ISIS might be outright about killing Christians but our society has been killing Christianity since it’s existence.
Just look at the Holocaust.
Just look at the fight to take “religion” out of school and politics and government.
Just look around us.
This is not a new thing or a new evil. Instead evil has become blatant about the attack, no more behind closed doors and in the whisper but instead it is out right and in our face.
And yet, I am still not afraid. Nor am I sad for those who are loosing their lives. I know I sound heartless when I say this but just think…
Revelation 6:9-11″When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[e] were killed just as they had been.
Those who ISIS are killing are these very souls… the souls of those slain because of the Word of God and the testimony. They are under the altar of God and He gives them a white robe. This is why I am not saddened by the thought of Christians loosing their lives for the sake of the Gospel. I am excited that they are in throne room of God and because of their sacrifice they receive white robes.
As I stated earlier though, I am saddened by the loss their families and loved ones feel. I saddened by the evilness that makes this a possibility.
BUT… that is not my only response to ISIS.
Last week at youth group we were talking about wearing the whole Armor of God. As I was preparing for our time together and was reading through Ephesians 6 a passage of scripture caught my attention in a way it never had before.
Ephesians 6:18-20 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me,that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Paul, who write Ephesians, is talking about the armor of God – what protects us as we fight the battles against the evil one. He ends this section of his letter by talking about praying in the Spirit for all of the Lord’s people – specifically for himself that when he speaks he would speak fearlessly the gospel. Paul lived in a time when persecutions of Christians was a normal thing. On multiple occasions Paul is imprisoned, tortured and almost killed for the sake of the gospel. Does he ever pray that the Lord would take this from him? No. Instead his prayer is that he would speak fearlessly the gospel as he is imprisoned, tortured and almost killed. Whenever I hear the news about what is going on in the world, the persecution of people groups and religions, the hatred of Christians all I can think is that this isn’t the first time.
In the history of America this has happened time and time again.
But each of these events, which the enemy intended for evil, the Lord redeemed. How? Just look at the Boston Marathon. A senseless act of evil towards unsuspecting individuals; lives were lost, dreams were shattered. And yet, a city that is often seen as dark and sinful was covered in prayer. The reaction to the Boston Marathon? #PrayforBoston. What the enemy intended for evil and darkness, was instead a catalyst for an advancement of the Kingdom, not just in Boston but across this country and globe.
In times of tragedy what happens? Those who proclaim to have no faith fall on their knees and cry out to the only God who hears. With tears and fears and troubled hearts prayer is the place that we turn.
And so… my response to ISIS isn’t one of terror or fear. I do not run from my belief in an attempt to save my own life but instead I turn to the very place Paul did. I pray that those who ISIS captures for their faith would be fearless to proclaim the gospel, that they would not fear evil but instead in the boldness of the Lord proclaim the only true hope to those who are the most hopeless. My prayer is that what the enemy intended for evil, the killing of innocent Christians, would expand the Kingdom of God because the gospel is being proclaimed to those who might never have heard it before. Who knows in the course of this terror how many within ISIS find hope in Jesus, are set free by TRUTH? Who knows?!
And so my response? I pray for ISIS. For each individual that has been taken captive by darkness that the light of Truth would set them free. I pray for comfort for their families and the families of those killed.
And I pray that I myself would be fearless to proclaim the gospel regardless of the evil that stands in my face. For in this world the darkness would have us believe that he has won, but the truth is, Light always prevails.