What Responsibility Do Christians Bear for ISIS?

child-1154951_640I faced a hard question this week. It came to me on my knees.

So much conversation is in the air about who is responsible for ISIS. What president is most to blame for their existence? Which candidate is most likely to eradicate them? What nation should be addressing them? How does our culture contribute to their recruitment of some Americans and other Westerners?

How does the world protect Christians living in their shadow? Furthermore, how does the world protect Christians living under North Korean persecution or Chinese oppression? We should be addressing all these questions but for Christians, there is a more important question to ask:

This week, I remembered something: we are not victims. We serve the Creator God, Lord Almighty, King of the Universe, the Omnipotent One. We not only serve Him but we are His people, His army, His children. The question every Christian should ask is what is our responsibility in this war against ISIS? What is our responsibility to the persecuted church? We’re not helpless bystanders, not a single one of us. We are sons and daughters of the Most-High God. Greater is He that is in us than He who is in the world.

Here are my thoughts:

First, we should be living on our knees in these times. The church of Jesus Christ should live an intercessory lifestyle, praying and fasting for the souls on all sides of this issue. Prayers of protection and deliverance –yes, but also prayers that God would bind the spirit of deception and call those who oppose Him and persecute His church to salvation through Jesus Christ. Prayers for the leaders of all nations and prayers for those believers with boots on the ground in these countries – nationals and missionaries alike – that the work of the kingdom would thrive even in the age of persecution.

Second, we need to listen and learn from our brothers and sisters who suffer for Christ. To what do their lives testify? We have chain-690088_640numerous avenues for communication with those living under persecution – what do they understand about Jesus that can inform the way we live here in America? What is their message to us about faith in our times? What is their counsel about how we can employ our freedom to support them in their confinement? I suspect they want us praying for more than their protection – they want us to pray that their kingdom work continues even as they suffer and that their suffering is not in vain.

Third, we can serve as witnesses and voices for them. Worse than suffering under ISIS or Kim Jong Un would be if the world became so accustomed to this oppression they forgot about those who suffer. If the world began to take their suffering for granted. If we ignored them or refused to notice them. We cannot hide our eyes from what the suffering church endures because it’s unpleasant, uncomfortable, or hard to bear. We must pay attention and we must speak out on their behalf. There is power in their story. In our freedom, we can voice their stories – to one another, to those in earthly power, to the press, and to the world.

Fourth, some of us are in a position to take action. There are ministries working to minister directly to those who suffer, to rescue those who have been taken, and to spread the gospel to those who would be oppressors. If we’re in any position to take action, we should and the rest of us should support these activities prayerfully and with resources.

lion-1118467_640Fifth, we need to exhibit the best that the love of Christ has to offer right now. Love casts out fear so Christians should sow courage with our lives and with our words. We should refrain from fear-mongering and rumor-spreading in our daily lives, from our pulpits, and in our social interactions. The church should be the seedbed of bravery, honor, and steadfastness. Love isn’t arrogant or rude. We can be demonstrating love for our enemies by learning about their culture, their lives, their challenges, and the barriers that exist between them and the gospel of Christ. We can learn more about those who suffer under terrorism. Know what their culture is about and what is important to them. Love rejoices with the truth so we can be diligent about spreading the truth of Christ all the more knowing that some do not have the freedom to do so we should share it once for us and once again, for them.

Sixth, we can demonstrate faith and confidence that our God will have the final word on these days. There is nothing occurring in the world that our God did not see coming and even for those martyred, there is an eternal story still to come. So we will not despair, even in these times.

The writer of Hebrews says it this way: “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:32-39

It matters how we live in these days.fire-1492098_640

It may be little enough what we can do for the persecuted church or against terrorists like ISIS or against powers like North Korea but if there is even a little, we should do that. Our God took a little boy’s lunch and fed a multitude. If we each offer Him the little we can do as individuals and churches, on behalf of the persecuted church – I imagine He could feed the world.

**Note to readers: Please, have this conversation first, in prayer, and then with those believers around you. Feel free to share this blog post or print it out and use it whatever way you feel will benefit the work of the kingdom in supporting those who suffer and in spreading the gospel to those who cause suffering. In the comments, share ways you or your church or others you know are working on behalf of the persecuted church. Let’s offer Him what little we have and see what He will do . . .

Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Lori, I have been burdened to pray for the ISIS fighters even though my heart rebels at the idea. I pray that many of these fanatical, perhaps even demon-possessed people will be drawn by the Holy Spirit as they watch the faith even unto death of the Christians they persecute. Some people glare at me when I talk about this burden but I believe no one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace.

  2. Love this post – this line, “Love isn’t arrogant or rude. We can be demonstrating love for our enemies by learning about their culture, their lives, their challenges, and the barriers that exist between them and the gospel of Christ.” – this explains the vision for the International Mission Force series. Thank you for always pointing us back to the gospel and to the One who has already won every battle we face.

  3. Debbie says:

    I’m writing to you from Athens, Greece where I am serving a refugee population in a family center six days a week. Prayer and sharing the love of Christ is my only weapon against the enemy, and if that helps keep just one child from being recruited, then it will be worth being away from my home and family for a month. The refugees are people just like you and me, and most through no fault of their own, are now in the hardest of places and needing our love and prayers more than ever. Our sovereign Lord has drawn them into a world where now we CAN at least reach them with the Good News – let’s not be too afraid to reach out in love and friendship.

  4. Joanne says:

    Thank you, Lori, for always speaking the truth and for challenging me. I am praying about what God would have me, as well as my church, do with regard to what you have said. The Lord bless you and keep you.

  5. Nancy says:

    Good post, Lori. Our small group at church is going to be studying the “I Am N” materials after we complete our current studies. (https://www.i-am-n.com/) These materials are produced by Voice of the Martyrs from David C. Cook, and one of the goals is for believers around the globe to support the martyred church. A second goal is not stated, but I think this study will help me give careful thought to the what-ifs of my faith if/when this comes to my door.