Ironically, here in Enid, Oklahoma we have Vance Air Force Base. Many of the members of Emmanuel Enid are pilots with the United States Air Force. Several have left our church and are now in the theater of war in the Middle East. One of them is now directing all air missions in Iraq as the United States government is attempting to stop the brutal and inhumane terrorist activities (warning: graphic content) of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS).
There are no easy answers on how to stop ISIS.
Yesterday, my wife and I read an incredible article by the founder and president of Preemptive Love, an organization devoted to helping all of humanity in Iraq. Jeremy Courtney makes the argument that the way ISIS can be stopped is for Christians to do everything they can to love the people of Iraq, including the radical Muslims. The essence of being a Jesus follower, according to Jeremy, is "loving one's enemies." He writes:
"It’s not violence or pre-emptive strikes that terrify the terrorists. They need violence to be done against them to justify their cause. But pre-emptive love — shown through heart surgeries or simple hospitality — upends our simplistic stories and threatens hatred everywhere. Or, in the words of the fatwa issued against our work: 'We must stop [these heart surgeries] lest it lead our children and their parents to love their enemies!'"
I agree with Jeremy.
However, as I read his article, I couldn't help think about the men in northern Iraq and Syria who've been crucified by ISIS for being Christian. I couldn't help but think about the non-Muslim women and children who've been raped and beheaded or in some cases, buried alive. I couldn't help but think about the men, women and children who have fled for their lives and are starving and dying of thirst on Mount Sinjar
I'm not sure a heart surgery performed Preemptive Love on a child of a caliphate cleric helps those people in immediate danger of rape, murder, beheading, and other horrific and inhumane acts perpetrated by ISIS.
But an FA-18 airstrike can ice ISIS in their tracks.
I must admit I struggle in this area. I want so badly for everyone to live and act like Jeremy Courtney. I follow him on Twitter. I'm donating to his ministry. I believe in what he is doing. But I don't feel badly for paying taxes in order that the United States can have a military that is able to stop murderers and terrorists bent on holocaust. Am I less a follower of Jesus Christ because I believe in living my life like Christ lived His, but supporting a government that will intervene in a humanitarian crisis and bomb the ISIS terrorists?
I don't think so. Listen to Scripture:
"For government rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of government authorities? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for the state is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for the state 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. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection to government, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.…" (Romans 13:3-5)Most Christians miss that last phrase of Romans 13:5.
"...for conscience' sake..." My conscience will not allow the thought of men, women and children being tortured and murdered by ISIS. I support Israel, the United States, and any other government in any effort to stop brutal terrorism.
It's why the church and the state shall remain separate till Christ comes. The church brings mercy; the state brings wrath. Those who call for the state to show mercy on evil doers have made the mistake of mixing the mission of church and the state. Christ's Kingdom now only resides within individual hearts. What a beautiful thing to see a heart transformed by God's grace to be able to love one's enemies. There is, however, no biblical or logical inconsistency with a Jesus follower turning his cheek privately toward his enemy, but at the same time supporting a government that strikes the cheek of the evil doer.