February 19, 2015

Doing the Right Thing

The media is flooded with stories about ISIS and the beheading of Christians. There is public outcry regarding the brutal slayings taking place in the Mideast. The media is calling on President Obama to pronounce these extremists as terrorists, and to declare war against those that take innocent lives. The political rhetoric is at an all time high, and people everywhere are clamoring, are calling, are crying out for someone to "do the right thing!" But what is the right thing? How do we know what is right? Especially in the case of political and religious extremism, what may look "right" to us, could potentially lead us down a path to destruction. When the world seems out of control, when our idea of right and wrong is pushed to the limits and is being tested by those that would thumb their noses at us -- we must remain calm, and think through every possible action in order to determine the consequences. Let me explain...

In our world, there are varying degrees of "rightness," or belief in a system of right and wrong. In America, there is a belief system that honors the plight of the innocent, victims of crimes, and such. Our legal system is predicated on redressing wrongs. Our country was built upon a Judeo-Christian foundation that seeks to liberate the oppressed, free the captives, and build up the brokenhearted. In Luke 4:18-19 we read,

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favor has come."

In our mindset or worldview, this is what we see as our mission -- to bring justice and liberality to those who are held in bondage to various forms of slavery. Yet, not every country in the world has the same mindset or worldview. In many countries, bondage and slavery are accepted. Moreover, women and children are not treated equally, therefore, there is the belief that they are possessions, chattel, to be used and to be disposed at the discretion of their "owner."

Thus, in our desire to do the right thing, we have to make sure we understand what that "right thing" is and on whose authority we use to liberate and free the oppressed. Are we going in the Name of God (the Judeo-Christian God)? Are we going in the name of the USA? The United Nations? In whose authority do we go to liberate and free the slaves and captives of aggressive extremists?

It is important to understand our role in the world, and to realize that much of what we rail against is part-and-parcel with our sin-fallen nature. We live in a fallen world, and as such, men and women are evil, and they do evil things. How do we react against the evil in this world? Is it our place to fight against evil?

I am not a theologian nor am I a Biblical scholar so my knowledge is limited when it comes to understanding our role in world affairs and current events. However, what I do know is this -- the Lord gave this command and this the attitude we are supposed to be demonstrating to this fallen world:
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Moreover, this is the great commission given by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18-20,

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I am not smart enough to say for certain that we, as Christians, are not supposed to go into the world and fight against extremism with the use of force. But from my reading of Scripture, I can say for certain that we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Moreover, we are to love our neighbors -- all of our neighbors -- not just those who think like us. Furthermore, our job is to go into the world and make disciples. We are to teach them Scripture so that they will know and understand what is right and good and proper.

It seems at odds to me to hold to the desire to obliterate our enemy. I understand the rationale. I understand the line of thinking that says "get rid of them before they get rid of us!" Yet, part of me wonders what God thinks about this kind of mindset. Didn't the Lord die for the extremist fanatics just as much as He died for you and me? Is not God's heart grieved over the behavior and actions of ISIS as much as He is over my sin, my failures and faults? If God is impartial, and His word says that He is, then I have to believe that sin is sin. There is no better sin nor worse sin. Sin is a failure to meet God's standard or mark. Thus, whether I am lost in atheism or lost within the clutches of some fanatical belief system, I am singularly LOST. There is no difference to God. God desires that all who are lost come to repentance and salvation. Therefore, we must pray for our enemies, we must seek the lost and be about the business or work the Lord left for us to do. Yes, we must be cautious, we must work to liberate, to free, and to bind up those that are caught in the midst of clashing world systems. However, we must not lose sight, not lose focus, not lose hope. God is still on His throne, and He has not been moved. Let us not lose heart in doing good -- no matter how bad things seem to be in the world today.

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