Jihadism is that radical Islam that wages jihad, or war, against non-Muslims and even against moderate Muslims.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say everyone agrees that Jihadism poses a threat to freedom. And let’s say that everyone agrees that the job of a government is to protect its citizens.
So, then, how is a church to respond to the threat of human enemies against Christianity? If the Bible provides for governments to wield the sword, what is the role of the church?
Darrow Miller writes (in a soon-to-be-released book) about one model from a church in Peru during the turmoil of a different terrorist movement, the Shining Path.
Pastor Samuel Alcarraz Curi recalls that “when the guerillas were really active in Peru, they were preaching death but my church was preaching life. We gained the reputation as a church that loved the people; the guerillas were calling to kill and be killed. And so our church grew greatly because we offered health, security, nutrition, clothing, love and peace, the practical kingdom of God.” (from Mosques & Miracles: Revealing Islam and God’s Grace, by Stuart Robinson, Upper Mt Gravatt, Qld, Aus: CityHarvest Publications, 2004, 298.)
God ordains human governments and authorizes their just use of force. He also founded the church, the body of Christ in the world. Given that the church is comprised of real flesh-and-blood people, it cannot simply act as if no threat of terror exists. But the church is called not to wage war or wield power. The church is called to love.
Christ calls us to love even our enemies. The church responds to the violence of the sword with the vulnerability of the cross; to the culture of death with the culture of life; to hatred with love, injustice with justice, tyranny with freedom.
Darrow writes of “Brother Andrew” who
… covertly carried Bibles into communist countries during the height of the Cold War. After the fall of communism, Brother Andrew turned his attention to the Middle East. He challenges Christians to say, “’I Sincerely Love All Muslims (I.S.L.A.M.)’ and to prove it by putting their arms around Muslims and say, “God loves you; therefore I love you.” (from “The Good Jihad,” by Priya Abraham in WORLD, 12/8/07)
Some will scoff at such an idea as pollyanish and naive. But maybe it’s not, as demonstrated by this story from the Philippines.
Liberato [not his real name] is a pastor from the Philippines and part of the minority Christian community on an island with a Muslim majority. Muslims wanted to overrun the central government and set up an Islamic state on the island. They sought to drive the Christians out by burning down their homes.
The Philippine army arrived to crush the Muslim rebellion by blowing up the terrorist’s homes. Liberato responded by saying: “We need to love our enemies. We need to demonstrate God’s love.”
None of the other pastors in the community agreed. So Liberato organized his church to rebuild the terrorist’s homes. Eventually other churches joined them. When I heard the pastor tell the story, they had rebuilt the homes of 40 Muslim families. Not surprisingly, the attitude of the Muslim community toward Christians was changing dramatically!
Another example comes from a church in Jakarta, Indonesia serving in slums inhabited by Muslims.
They started schools, soup kitchens, literacy programs, and skills training for unemployed Muslims. … When a group of radicals came to burn down the sanctuary, they were prevented by poor Muslims who streamed out of their community and surrounded the church, saying “You are not going to touch this church. These people love us.”
May these examples be multiplied a million times over everywhere a church touches a Muslim community.
May they, indeed.
- Gary Brumbelow