Friday’s post looked at what happens in countries where Muslim extremists attain power. Muslim extremists must be distinguished from other Muslims who do not seek to dominate the world, but it should also be acknowledged that few Muslims speak out against Muslim extremism. There are several reasons for this fact, but it does not make every Muslim an extremist any more than silence made every Christian a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There are some simple explanations rooted in human nature.
This post will leap over all those issues and look at the biggest problem for any Christian: how to respond to Muslim extremism and how to live in a world where this ideology is active.
The short and simple answer is this: Christ.
Christians must live Christ-like lives and speak Christ-like words.
This solution sounds suspiciously like the one proposed for dealing with secular thinking. In fact, it is exactly the same solution. It is extremely difficult to put this solution first when people fear for their lives and their way of life. Nevertheless, if Christians fail to put Christ first, they will not be very successful in finding any peace amid the changes taking place every day in the USA. They will not feel at peace with life in a country where any gathering may at any time be the target of violence in the cause of Muslim extremism.
Christians who think like Christ will do one more thing that is a powerful force in response to Muslim extremism: they will love Muslims. Some will confuse loving Muslims with accommodation for violence. Christ-like love does not accommodate evil. Jesus never told Christians to accommodate evil. Jesus said, “Love your enemy.” He did not say, “Let your enemy kill and maim innocent people.” Jesus said, “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” Jesus did not say, “Look the other way while evil runs rampant over a nation.” Jesus said that a Christian will love enemies, absorb punishment while continuing to love the enemies, and attack enemies with prayer-spears of loving intercession. These are the individual, personal responses Christians make to aggressive evil.
Government is the God-given power for group action against evil. Christians who are citizens of a republic like the USA have the privilege and obligation to participate in the decisions of their government to resist evil and aggression. Jesus’ admonition about what is Caesar’s points to a wise recognition of the role of government to take action against evil by means of police and military action. In this republic, the government’s actions are shaped in part by the voice of citizens engaged in public discussion of issues. Christians absolutely need to engage in the conversation and speak with simultaneous rejection of evil and Christ-like love for the evil-doer. God always wants his people to speak out and be the voice of God’s high standards. This is one more way an individual Christian can help to contain and diminish the impact of Muslim extremism. This is the place for Christ-like words that love the perpetrators of evil while refusing them the license to continue it. Every parent knows how this works.
Muslim extremism, however, is much more dangerous than childish temper tantrums. It is not something any nation can safely ignore. It is not something any Christian can safely ignore. Christians must speak truth and participate with integrity as citizens in shaping the government response to Muslim extremism. In order to do that, Christians must do first things first.
- Put Christ first in all our thoughts.
- Be disciplined in prayer and Bible study in order to achieve maturity in living and speaking a faithful testimony to Christ.
- Accept the civic duty to participate in the government with voice and vote. Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in word and deed in the discussion of the problem of Muslim extremism.
Open Doors USA has some very good advice for building the right kind of relationship with Muslims. They recommend Christians use the word Islam as an acronym for
The book of Revelation has some rich guidance on this subject as well. In this book, Christians will discover that worship is, as Dr. Rick Carlson says, “the great subversive act against evil.” In chapter 8 the prayers of the saints, rising up to God like incense, bring all the chaos in the universe to a complete halt. “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Recognizing that this “event” took place in the realm of eternity, Christians can take comfort in the promise that their prayers have power without feeling the need to try to figure out exactly how long that pause lasted. When prayer and praise rise up to God’s throne, he pays attention. Faithful worship is a power in the battle against evil.
If Christians love Muslims, they will wisely and rightly recognize the difference between Muslim extremists and Muslims who simply want to live in liberty and peace alongside all the other people of all the other religions that make up the population of the country. Christians who want to defeat and defuse Muslim extremism will love the perpetrators of violence and aggression, but they will participate in a strong, just response that ultimately ends the threat of violence against the innocent. If we want to defeat any form of evil, we must put Christ first in our lives. After that, we must follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in word and deed. In our own strength and puny wisdom, we will never defeat evil of any sort. Christ is our victory over evil, whether in ourselves and in others.