LOVE NEVER FAILS: The Christian Response to Jihadism

Governments have the responsibility to defend their nation against terrorist enemies. But the church has a different responsibility: 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.

Photo by JakoJellema

Andrew van der Bijl (b. 1928), known as Brother Andrew, smuggled Bibles into communist countries during the height of the Cold War. After the fall of communism, he turned his attention to the Middle East. “We cannot win the war on terror with guns and bombs,” he says, “because everyone we kill is replaced by dozens more who seek revenge. . . . We believe that if millions of Christians would respond to Muslims with the love of Christ, that would do far more to remove the threat of terror than our military activities.[1] Brother Andrew 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.’”[2]

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. He told me how his church became a love cell. 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. (Imagine if someone in your community hated you enough to burn down your home, simply because you were a Christian.) 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, but Liberato organized his church to rebuild the terrorist’s homes. Eventually other churches joined them. When I heard the story, they had rebuilt the homes of forty Muslim families. Not surprisingly, the attitude of the Muslim community toward Christians was changing dramatically.

I received a letter from a friend named Chris who works with the Disciple Nations Alliance affiliate in Africa. Chris had the privilege of speaking to pastors in Malakal, in what is now South Sudan, on the need for the church to minister to the needs of the larger community, including the Muslim minority. Chris describes a thrilling moment in the closing ceremony:

The highlight of the celebration was when a mosque preacher, an Imam, who we did not know was a participant, walked forward and said, “Having listened to the wholistic message of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, including loving your enemies, and the rest of the transformational messages, I hereby openly declare my departure from the Islamic faith and identify myself with the family of Jesus Christ.”

Abba Love, a large cell church in Jakarta, Indonesia, ministers in neighboring slums inhabited by Muslims. They have started schools, soup kitchens, literacy programs, and skills training for unemployed Muslims. When a group of radicals came to burn down Abba Love’s building, they were prevented by poor Muslims who streamed out of the community and surrounded the building, 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. The war from the East will be won through the self-sacrificial love of the church, through the Word becoming flesh in God’s people.

- excerpted from Emancipating the World: A Christian Response to Radical Islam and Fundamentalist Atheism by Darrow Miller

[1] Priya Abraham, “The Good Jihad,” World, December 8, 2007

[2] Stuart Robinson, Mosques and MiraclesRevealing Islam and God’s Grace (Upper Mount Gravatt, Qld., Aus.: City Harvest Publications, 2004), 298.

 

  
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3 Responses to LOVE NEVER FAILS: The Christian Response to Jihadism

  1. That is absolutely inspiring. That is Christian intervention.

  2. Dennis Warren says:

    To me, the main difference between Christianity and Islam has been the way their main human proponents have responded to those who wanted to do them harm. Jesus told Peter to put up his sword as He healed the severed ear – and Jesus also prayed: “Father forgive them …”

    — Whereas Mohammed (in the later part of his life) led military raids against his enemies.

    So … I would have expected key Christian church leaders to echo the “ISLAM” acronym suggested by brother Andrew … unfortunately I don’t recall sensing that spirit overwhelmingly after 9/11. I’m hoping the reason I haven’t sensed primarily this I.S.L.A.M. spirit – is due more to my own lack of Christ’s character rather than a lack in the body of Christ as a whole.

  3. Dennis Warren says:

    Another thing that comes to my mind as I read Darrow’s insightful post is the way the Amish community responded after the tragedy where 10 of their children were shot and 5 killed. The way they responded with forgiveness to the family of the perpetrator has been most convincing to me concerning the truth about the possibility for the Holy Spirit to live within Christ’s followers. This sort of reaction gives me more hope for the promises of God than any words I have ever heard come from behind a church pulpit or read from whatever source.

    See under “Amish Community Response” in the page at the following link:

    Amish school shooting

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