Today’s message summary of January 17, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:
When you hear the word, “terrorist,” what comes to mind? Does it make you stop and think, or have we become desensitized to it?
Islamic terrorists, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, are prepared to wage war against anyone they oppose. Over the past year, there have been numerous attacks over many parts of the world, but we need to know that these attacks also have an impact on us in the United States. There have been recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and in Philadelphia. The attacker in Philadelphia admitted an allegiance to ISIS.
How should we respond to these attacks? How should we respond to these crimes to humanity? How are we to respond to such evil?
We will explore the meaning of “jihad.” We will look at what it means from the terrorist perspective, and we will apply it to the Christian perspective.
Jihad has a negative connotation indeed. It is used often in the media; however, the clearest definition to the word is that jihad is an “inner struggle.” For the Muslim, this inner struggle takes on different forms. For some, it may be struggling against those who may dismiss Islam, and it means using words or even weapons to defend their faith. Going further, even Muslims who follow ISIS or Boko Haram will attack other Muslims because of internal disagreements. Within the Koran, there are texts that justify their actions.
Many have carried this jihad to be a worldwide struggle against those who oppose Islam. The Koran says in Chapter 9 to kill the unbelievers, ambush them and seize them. In the same way that the Bible has its own reference to the end times, there is also something similar in the Koran that refers to the elimination of all Jews.
Radical Islamic terrorism, or jihad, is to eliminate anyone who opposes them or fails to believe in them. It is a philosophy of convert or die.
During the Crusades, there was a very similar situation. There was a pledge by the Pope that anyone who participated in the battles that their sins would be forgiven. They fought against those who were Muslim as well as anyone that did not follow Christ.
The Crusaders’ Holy War was wrong just as the current jihadists are wrong.
Christians, today, are the ones who should expect to face opposition and persecution.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
2 Timothy 3:12-13
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.
How are we to overcome this evil? It can be done, and it has been done before?
They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not love their lives
in the face of death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them!
Woe to the earth and the sea,
for the Devil has come down to you
with great fury,
because he knows he has a short time.
One of the fastest growing churches in the world is in China. There are many house churches and underground churches for Jesus that are flourishing even though the government there provides opposition.
Everywhere that the church has been persecuted, it continues to flourish because God has provided the increase. Those who stand in the face of persecution, and even witnessing their own family members being persecuted, believe in proclaiming the name of Jesus. It is an amazing faith that drives these people.
How do we respond to these tragedies?
The best way to respond to these attacks is with prayer.
Ephesians 6:12, 18
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
Our enemy is not Muslims. Our enemy is not those who desire to persecute us. This is God’s battle, and we pray for His intercession in our lives. He intercedes on our behalf as we pray to Him.
With this in mind, what do you think the Christian jihad is? The word “jihad” is not found in the Bible, but using the word “struggle,” we can determine its proper application to us.
People have an inner struggle with sin. We struggle with our own sin, with our neighbors’ sin, and the sins of the world.
For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
Our jihad, the inner struggle, is not with other people, but in fact it is with Satan and sin.
The other aspect that we struggle with is love. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, highlights love as an important aspect of His character.
We are to love others, and even to bless those who persecute you.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
It is impossible for us to love people in the way that Christ loves them. It is the love of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, that enables us to love our enemies.
I submit to you that the greatest commandment is found in Matthew:
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. .The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
This vertical and horizontal love is what transcends culture and combats the evil in the world. It overcomes everything. This is love that sweeps across the globe.
We are far from perfect, but if we strive for this love in our lives and love others, many of our problems will cease.
The Christian inner struggle is indeed Jesus’ greatest commandment. Jesus Christ understood this Himself on the day before He was crucified; yet He remained obedient to God:
Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
He had to pray to God, the Father, for that inner struggle bothered Him greatly, but Christ gave His life on the cross was God’s eternal love–His atonement for our sins. He did it because He loved us.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Our struggle is not against other people–it is against sin. Jesus Christ is the answer to all of this. It is within His greatest commandment, and He is the reason that we can overcome sin and our enemies.
We are to look at our enemies as broken people who need the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is love. We are able to love others because He loved us.
1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.