What Is Your War?

The other day I happened to notice that Christians was trending on Twitter.  Out of curiosity, I delved into the trend to discover the root of the discussion.  What I found was a significant reaction to the President’s address of recent executions in Egypt.  There were many people who were upset that the President did not directly refer to the slain as “Christians” even though that was the message relayed through news outlets.
I played out the possibility of the President directly making that remark and paired it with the strong, visceral reaction I saw on social media.  I came to the conclusion that the President was very wise for addressing it as he did.  Allow me to flesh this out.
Recent historical events have prejudiced much of the Western world toward anyone who claims Islam as their faith.  Terrorist events by extremists professing that faith have overshadowed the peaceful and law-abiding lives of the millions who fundamentally live out the Islamic faith.  To be quite frank, much of the vocal sentiment in the United States has been derogatory and dismissive of Islams.  Perceived as a threat and therefore an enemy, even professed Christians have given themselves a new enemy:  Muslims.
The theat of terrorist events are not bound to a political border.  Depending on your definition of terror, they are not bound to a people group either.  Unfortunately, however, if asked to assign the threat of terror to one group, most would have “Muslims” at or near the top of their list.
I realize that this not substantiated, but I’m simply relaying it as per my experience and observation.  Follow along for just a moment longer.  If the President had directly stated that the slain were Christians, it would have been a statement that only further narrowed the terms.  It would no longer be the Islamic State (IS) enacting terror against the Western world, but it would have been narrowed to Islam(ic State) against Christianity.  The reaction that I saw seemed to indicate that that is exactly what many people want to declare.
That sounds familiar.  A group of professing Christians calling for a military leader to ascknowledge and overthrow the enemy.  That’s what first-century believers wanted.  Any Messiah who would come would have to be one prepared to lead God’s people against the Roman enemy.  Jesus turned that view on its head.  He did not ride in on a war horse; he rode in on a donkey.  He did not overthrow the Roman empire with might; He died on their torture device.  And the Kingdom that Jesus ushered in is still in operation today.  A Kingdom that is about the ushering in of his second coming.
So I come again to this question:  what benefit would it have served anyone for the military leader of the United States of America to say that twenty-one Christians died at the hands of extremists who profess an Islamic faith?  None.  For us to even suppose that we can label with conviction the faith of any one person is to purport the duty of God.  I know no one’s heart, and neither do you.  For me to say with certainty that a Christian died is as foolish as saying with certainty that those who killed them were Muslim.  I know nothing of the sort.
Let us not take the short nor the narrow view of history.  Let us not take the short nor the narrow view of our world today.  God is holding open history until such time as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shall return.  In the meantime, there is a mandate – a bestowed responsibility – to make the good news of salvation known to all peoples.  Did you know that Muslims are the largest group of unreached peoples in terms of having an accessible message of salvation given to them?  Did you know that the vast majority of Muslims do not know one single person who would call themselves Christian?
If someone has been given the good news, the key, the answer, who is responsible if someone does not know about it?  The person with the answer!  Salvation is a gift of grace through faith, and lest we forget that we are undeserving, we could begin to recount all of our sins together.  Shall we?
Do not lose sight of what is to be accomplished.  The Kingdom of God is entrusted to us – broken vessels striving for obedience.  I will win no one to Christ through hate.  I will win no one to Christ through force.  I will win no one to Christ by military might.  That is not the battle.  The battle is to discern between the two warring kingdoms in this world and to align with the winning side.  The winning side has allegiance to love, grace, and forgiveness.  If that is not how you want to end this battle, I would ask you, “What is your war?”