“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The only thing I knew about the Paris attacks when I woke this morning was that at least 100 people were dead, and that ISIS claimed responsibility. Karie and I were in the kitchen while we waited for the coffee to brew. She was watching some sort of video on her phone about the attacks, while I opened up my Bible to read the next section of Matthew of which I have been studying. I was not hardened against the attacks, I just knew that I wanted to saturate my heart with the words of Jesus before reading of this horrendous terroristic slaughter of innocent people.
I just went on the Fox News website and read the report. What a wicked and heinous crime. ISIS has claimed responsibility through a website of which this was posted:
Less than an hour after Hollande’s statement, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement that described Paris as “the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe” and described the attackers as “eight brothers wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles.”
”Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the IS,“ the statement also read, in part, ”and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign.”
This was an attack against Christ and his followers. Many of the people who have died in the attacks were probably not Christians, yet to ISIS; “Paris carries the banner of the Cross, and are leading the convoy of the Crusader campaign.” Make no mistake from the words quoted, this war, to ISIS is about Jesus. To Americans and Europeans, this war is about freedom.
American and European freedom included the freedom to worship whom, and in what way one might choose. This freedom is lessening in America. Christians are still free to worship Christ, yet the words of Christ found in the Bible are being terroristically put to death in schools, government, and the public sphere in general. It’s like we have the freedom to worship Jesus, but aren’t able to completely believe, quote, or insist the universality of his words found in the Bible any longer. Jesus said “whoever is not for me is against me.”
Freedom should not be freedom to believe anything you might choose to believe. If this is how America is defining freedom, then ISIS should have the freedom to believe they should kill Christians. The rapist become free to rape, the murderer free to kill, and the mother free to abort their own baby. Freedom can not be total freedom to believe as true any opinion one might have. Freedom needs to be grounded in some moral foundation, some standard of truth. This standard of truth used to be the Bible. It is not the Bible any longer in our land. So what exactly are Europeans and Americans standing upon now as our standard of truth? What is it that governs our free opinions as either right or wrong;? the majority vote? The majority can certainly be wrong. Look at ISIS. The majority of them believe what they are doing to the world is right. And if the majority of them think it is right, then it is right, right?
Is there something inside of you that thinks my words are foolish and wrong? I am venting here, but I am also very concerned that Europe and America needs to get back to standing upon a foundation that does not shift or change. Oh that the gospel would spread across our lands!
So I ask you this morning, do you hate ISIS? Jesus’ words to us in Matthew instruct us to love our enemies and pray for them who persecute us. Does loving the Islamic State mean we agree with them, or desire their prosperity? Certainly not! Loving them this morning while I sit at my desk looks like praying for them. I have never committed a terroristic attack on anyone. Yet I rebelled for many years against those who “carried the banner of the cross.” I am certain that if God can change my heart so that I might become a follower of Jesus, and love those who carry the banner; he can do the same for the Islamic State.
Dear Lord in heaven, I deeply grieve this morning for the scores of people who have suffered, and are suffering through the attacks at Paris. I ask that the gospel would spread through this persecution, and Jesus would bring healing to the souls of men, women, and children. Father, I also bring the terrorists before your throne. Those who were killed in the attacks last night are already standing before your presence. There is no hope of redemption for them. But there are millions of people who believe in Islamic extremism, and are even now preparing their own war against your Son Jesus. Please O God, flood repentance upon their heart. Cause them to be broken over their sin and their rebellion against you. Bring the healing salve of Christ upon their land so that you might have millions more who worship and follow you. Give the people of Paris hope in Jesus. This earth is the closest to hell the believer will ever get. Many people went through their hell last night, but are even now ever rejoicing before you in love. Thank you for Jesus. In his name I pray, amen.