A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS (by Carl Medearis)

I have long respected Carl Medearis.

carl-medearis

I appreciate 3 things about Carl:
#1 – he loves God and he loves Jesus,
#2 – he loves Muslim people and wants to build bridges, not walls,
#3 – he does not promote a “religion” – he promotes Jesus – and he wants everyone to know and follow him.

Below is a recent blog post by Carl about ISIS (http://carlmedearis.com/2014/09/a-thoughtful-christian-response-to-isis/). As someone who has spent 32 years in the Middle East, speaks Arabic, has been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East, and has met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family, I think he is worth listening to. Though he is writing to a predominately Christian audience, I want to know what you think about his words below.

———————————————————————————————–

Obama admits to not having a strategy. Duck Dynasty Godfather, Phil Robertson, wants to “Convert ‘em or kill ‘em.”

So what is a thoughtful honest strategy for confronting a terrorist group like ISIS?

ISIS doesn’t need any more explanation. We know what it is – evil personified. They have morphed out of Al Qaeda who were ironically too liberal for their most radical Islamic interpretations, namely that there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge.

ISIS has brutally killed 1000’s, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power. Ethnic Christians and a small people-group called Yazidis have found themselves in evil’s path, but so have the armies of Syria (both the national army and the various rebel groups), Iraq and even Lebanon. It seems anyone who isn’t willing to lay down their “flag” and join the newly self-appointed ISIS Caliphate is deemed a traitor and deserves to die. The execution of two American hostages by beheading has horrified the West and captured our daily imaginations – mostly how we can “demoralize and destroy” to use our President’s words, this new evil encroaching on our freedoms and international interests.

But I’m not a politician, I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus. But I’ve spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family. And the politics of this are complicated to be sure. To bomb or not to bomb? Boots on the ground? It would seem that any attempt at a real diplomatic solution would be ridiculous with such a group.

Then what should the attitude be of followers of Jesus in the West? How should we talk about ISIS amongst ourselves and if we had the chance to speak to one of our Congressional representatives, what might we encourage them to do? As “people of the book” (the name Muslims give to Christ-followers), what is our posture?

Unlike President Obama or the Duck guy, Jesus had a strategy. Believe it or not, he was smart. He lived under an occupying force and dealt with zealots (men who would have been considered “terrorists”) and lest we forget – he was killed. So Jesus knew pain, suffering, persecution and terrorism first hand.

And he had a strategy for dealing with such enemies. Here are five:

1. “Take the log out of our eyes, before we help get the speck out of someone else’s eye” (Matthew 7:5, Luke 6:42).

tumblr_ln3i9szkyc1qbszwbo1_500

Are there logs in the eyes of the West, America specifically, that we need to first recognize? Where did ISIS get its weapons, for instance? And are there logs in the eyes of those of us who claim the way of Jesus as the way for the whole world? If the church had done its job of sharing Jesus in the Arab world in years past, would we have this issue? If the boys who are now men in ISIS, ten years ago, had heard and received the good news of Jesus – would they be doing what they are now?

2. “Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear” (Matthew 13:16). We need to see, hear and understand – it’s the parable of the Sower. There are reasons ISIS exists. We may not like them, and we might not want to understand them, but a mature and wise person will seek to know. Ask the question “Why?”

why

Why is there an ISIS? If you were in their shoes would you be tempted to do something similar? If you grew up in a country with no power at your disposal, no outlet for travel, economic opportunity or education – and someone handed you a gun and said “We can take what should have been ours anyway” would you be tempted? It’s easy to say “No.” But…, are you sure?

3. “The harvest is ripe” (Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2). Who has attempted to bring them good news? Saul was a terrorist before he became Paul – killing Christians just like ISIS is doing. There’s always hope. The good news is the Power of God for salvation.

gospel

Do we believe that? Who’s willing to go? Now.

4. “Turn the other cheek, carry the pack an extra mile and give them the coat off your back” (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29).

BIBLE-QUOTES-HD-WALLPAPERS-LUKE-6_29-FREE-DOWNLOAD

Jesus was rooted in Middle Eastern culture. He understood the power of shame and employs it brilliantly in these three simple strategies in these words from Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount. Each are used by Jesus to show that the one who is being abused can take power back from the abuser by taking charge of the situation. “Turning the cheek” wasn’t being passive – but a way to force the man who struck first to think about what he was doing before striking again. Forcing a civilian to carry a pack an “extra mile” was actually illegal – so the Roman soldier would be in big trouble for his superiors if someone saw what was happening. Taking of your “outer cloak” and showing your nakedness would have been a huge shame on the one who saw – not the one who took it off – but the one who saw. Shaming is Jesus’ clever way of granting power to the powerless.

What if we spent a billion dollars on creative ways of shaming ISIS – what might we come up with?

5. “Love your enemy, bless them. . .” (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36)

3817432_orig

Develop a long-term strategy for confronting evil. These injunctions of Christ – to love, bless and give to our enemies – are long- term strategies. They may not work right now within the current situation, but we have to be asking about the next generation. Who are the kids playing soccer in the dirty streets of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan who could become successful businessmen and women, OR the next ISIS? We never heard of ISIS just one year ago. We didn’t know about Al Qaeda before 9/11. Who is the next ___________? And how do we move beyond our short-sighted 4-year-at-a-time policies to a more enlightened policy of generations? To love, bless and give to your enemy speaks of development and opportunity. Are we taking economic and educational reform seriously enough in countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? If not, why not?

Of course, there is a legitimate argument to be made, that when people such as those within ISIS submit themselves fully to evil, war is our last option. Christians and those committed to the ways of Jesus have argued that position through the lens of “Just War Theory” since the days of St. Augustine. However, I believe we are too quick to employ that as a strategy when Jesus gave us some clear methods for confronting our enemies. His way is not passive. The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.

Ironically the Phil Robertson’s of the world use the exact same language as ISIS – “convert or die.” There is another Way!

Paul summarized this way of Jesus well when he said, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

ISIS is evil, but they can ultimately be overcome by good.

053

——————————————————————————————-

My Muslim friends, please let me know what you think of this article by a Christ-follower regarding the current situation with ISIS. Is Carl delusional or. . .might he have something for all of us to think about?

5 thoughts on “A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS (by Carl Medearis)

  1. Quran 41:34

    Sahih International: And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.

    Pickthall: The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.

    Yusuf Ali: Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!

    If good Christians were to teach their own Christian brothers to refrain from acts of evil such as drone terrorism, economic sanctions that kill hundreds of innocent children, proxy wars and political interference, oppression and injustice by supporting dictators, occupation through U.S. bases…etc…that provide the impetus for crazy groups like ISIS to form in the first place then it will become easier for good Muslims also to promote good among their brothers and lead people away from evil.

    • My Anonymous Muslim Friend, so sorry to again be so slow in responding. I continue to thank you for reading and. . .responding. And I appreciate the verse from the Qur’an that you shared.

      You mention several issues that obviously are difficult for you regarding U.S. foreign policy. I can only say – as I have said before to you – that the U.S. is not primarily a “Christian” nation. Since I have met people in my overseas trips who seem to think that, I wonder if you do? The U.S. has many Christian people but the vast majority of people in the U.S. are absolutely not followers of Jesus. By their words, actions, and lifestyles, they are not Christians. This, of course, also applies to those in politics or the military. There are committed Christians in those areas but again, the majority of people running our country politically or militarily are not following Jesus in their personal lives or. . .in their decisions about foreign policy.

      Please do not blame Christians or Christianity for the foreign policies that come from the U.S. (if you do). The U.S. has helped many countries for many years but has also made horrible mistakes at home and also abroad. I am thankful for all the aid we have given to so many but also sorry for those mistakes that have hurt so many. . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Feel free to use a nickname.