So. Much. Hate. We have all heard the outrageous statements ISIS and their sympathizers have made against Christians. They range from specific threats to general disdain for the people of our faith. Here is a brief sampling:
“I hope there is a backlash against Christians because Christianity, as practiced by most Christians, is not a religion of peace, and all of us who do live in peace should do whatever we can to defeat Christianity.”
“There is no such thing as a good Christian.”
“We could end those Christians before they walk in… Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
Add to these many others statements that call for the destruction of Christians, the deportation of Christians, and the general mocking of our faith. It is disgusting.
There are two major problems with these statements:
1) They are dismissive, destructive, uncivil, and I’d say evil.
2) They actually weren’t said by ISIS types. They were said by Christians, about Muslims (not just the radicalized ones), and I just changed the words to disguise that fact.
If we would be horrified hearing these statements about our faith coming from terror sources, we had best take pause when our own people are saying this about another faith. It isn’t okay for ISIS and certainly is not okay for a Jesus follower.
Many will protest that this is all in self defense. Or that it is just the truth (I address that here). After all, we haven’t committed any acts of terror so we aren’t nearly as bad as they are. They are worse.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says difficult things like, “You think you are good because you haven’t killed anyone, but if you hated them in your heart or cursed them or called them names, it is just as bad as murder.” And “You think you are pure because you haven’t physically had an affair, but when you lust after a person you are just as guilty.” (Those are paraphrases, read the real thing here.)
Jesus desires more from us than simply following the letter of the law. Sure, we haven’t killed anyone, but we’ve hated them and degraded them, and these things are not compatible with a Kingdom life. Hate may not be murder and lust may not seem like adultery, but we have devalued people made in the image of God and we are taking steps in the direction of the thing we wish to avoid and steps away from God.
So when we say things like were mentioned at the beginning (regardless of who it is about), we may not be terrorists in the physical sense, but we are guilty in our heart. These are hard words to write and hard words to live, but this is the way of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God seldom works like the kingdoms of this world.
Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And Jesus is all about our heart. We may never cross the line into terror, but when our words cross the line, when our attitudes toward others cross the line, we have missed the point.
Jesus calls us to a radical love and a radical way of life so dedicated to God that even our words and our thoughts are godly. He calls us to such surrender that we don’t even speak or wish harm on our enemies. He calls us to a something so much better than the ways of earthy kingdoms.
Scripture says both fresh water and salt water cannot come from the same spring. Too often we want to be able to turn the fresh and salty on and off as we please. It cant work that way. If we are followers of Jesus our words are to be full of life, not venom. Peace and reconciliation, not discord and strife.
Let’s leave the destructive rhetoric and hateful hearts for the terrorists. These things have no place in the life of a Christian. Let’s not succumb to hate. Let’s not allow fear to drive us to unfaithfulness. Let’s be more like Jesus than like those who wish us harm.