Love Your Enemies: Does That Include ISIS? (Part 1)

Greg Strand – April 27, 2015 4 Comments

Islam has always attempted to overcome and conquer through conquest by using means of death and destruction. For them, they are citizens of one kingdom, the kingdom of Islam that equates religion and politics.

Christians proclaim the kingdom of God through death – the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, death to self and the kingdoms of this world, and a willingness to die in the propagation of the gospel since this is the means by which the gospel proclaimed may well be manifested. We are citizens of two kingdoms, or cities as Augustine wrote, that of God and that of man. And for Christians our heavenly citizenship marks and guides all we do while living in this earthly, transient kingdom.

John writes of Christians that we overcome “by the blood of the lamb,” i.e. the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, “by the word of their testimony,” i.e. by testifying that they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and “they loved not their lives even unto death,” i.e. they were willing to die for the sake of this truth (Rev. 12:11). The reason for this, John writes, is because they knew that even though they die, yet shall they live (Jn. 11:25-26).

Because of these truths, Jesus teaches us that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). Does this include the Muslim terrorists known as ISIS?

Please take four minutes to watch this powerful video created by Michael Chang: Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross). Granted he has not lived this and has not been asked, at present, to give the ultimate testimony to his faith in Christ through death, which he acknowledges. But that does not change the truth of this message. As you watch this video as a believer, do so with these two questions: How do I process this? What is the appropriate, God-honoring response?

And if you have a few extra minutes, I encourage you to read the following in which Chang is interviewed about this video and his on-line video ministry, Mighty: An Invitation to ISIS: Love, Not Hate – An Interview with Michael Chang. I include only the first part of the interview:

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Most people’s first thought when they hear about an ISIS beheading is not to “love ISIS.” Why would you devote a video to the concept?

MICHAEL CHANG: Precisely for that reason. The only thing ISIS has heard are words of vengeance and hate. And they deserve it. Their actions demand heavy justice. But there’s another message out there. The message of the cross proclaimed by the people of the cross. This message of forgiveness and love in the midst of our darkest sins has always been the heart-cry of Christians. However, the world isn’t very fond of Christ and his people, so our voices get silenced or twisted.

LOPEZ: Can a man really be forgiven for beheading another?

CHANG: What’s worse? Beheading someone, or nailing the Son of God to a cross? And yet, Jesus, while He hung there, said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not what they do.” The forgiveness of sins is not determined by the degree of the sin but by the value and worth of Christ.

LOPEZ: Who are “the People of the Cross?”

CHANG: Christians. Christ-followers.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

4 responses to Love Your Enemies: Does That Include ISIS? (Part 1)

  1. Greg,
    You are right on with this commentary. The video showed the Egyptian men killed by an ISIS group in Lybia. I saw a video in which the family of two of these men was asked what they would do if they saw the men who murdered their sons walking down the street in front of their house. The mother said that she would invite them in and share the message of salvation in Christ with them. The family said they were honored to have their sons give their lives as a witness to Christ.
    I am just completing a sermon series on the book of Jonah. The question that ends the book is one that calls for a response from the church today: “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (The city of Nineveh, the enemy of Israel).

    • Thank you for sharing the rest of the story, Howard. This evidences God’s sustaining grace in different ways. The sons evidenced God’s grace in their deaths. The mother evidenced God’s grace in her life and response.

      Although we don’t choose, I sometimes wonder if the sons did not experience the less painful path. Living in the wake of these sorts of atrocities carries with it a certain burden different and more long-term than death. But in either, and in both, instances, we are only sustained by God’s grace.

      As Paul writes, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom. 14:7-9).

  2. A thought provoking article. The challenge to love individuals who are ISIS adherents is a good one and you are right to point it out to us. However, the title question about loving ISIS left me a bit confused because ISIS is an organizational movement and while Muslim terrorists are unique individuals. Without a doubt we are commanded to love individuals within ISIS but we are in no way commanded to love the movement itself. Your article is in keeping with that perspective. The title of it is not.

    • Thank you for your reply, Don. I agree that it is odd at best to love an organization. And, more specifically, I agree that it is wrong to love the ISIS organization/organism. However, ISIS consists of people and that is the intent of the post and the video. My title, even though it could have been stated more clearly pointing out this fact, was a take on the title of the video clip. I am sorry for the confusion in the title, though I am grateful that the article was thought-provoking.

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