A Growing Threat

More and more, the media are waking up to the harsh reality that the Islamic State is a clear danger to all people in the Western world, and to Christians in particular. Following the beheading of the 21 martyrs of the Coptic Church came the news that these terrorists had abducted over 220 Assyrian Christians.

Even President Barack Obama, in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, has finally stated that the men massacred are Christians. He wrote: “In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the New York Post wrote that ISIS “threatens civilization, everything that is decent and noble about humanity” and “These aren’t sporadic attacks. This is part of an orchestrated fanaticism, and ideology that sees Christianity, Judaism, and any religion of peace as the enemy.”

We need to wake up and realize that this threat is not going away. So while we feverishly debate whether a dress is black and blue or white and gold, radical jihadistic Islam is growing and spreading throughout the Middle East and the whole world. Its violence toward Christians and other religious minorities will continue to spread, soon reaching Western Europe.

ISIS has declared that they are heading for Rome and even the commander of the Swiss Guard, Cristoph Graf admitted: “We are ready to intervene. Our job is security and as gendarmes we are well organized. We are ready if anything happens,” and “We have asked the guards to be on higher alert, to watch how people are moving. We can’t do more than that.”

What can we do to combat ISIS? Three things: First, we can do what we must do daily as Christians – pray for those persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Pray for those who have been abducted. Pray for the families of the martyrs. Pray for the Holy Father’s intentions. Pray for the leaders of the free world to make wise decisions in the necessary battle against these madmen. Also, pray for ISIS. Do what the Lord Jesus commanded: “Pray for your enemies.” Pray that they will see the light and realize the error of their madness.

Second, we can avoid stereotyping every single Muslim as a potential terrorist and a jihadist. As we know, a growing number of people joining ISIS are coming from Europe, Canada and America and some of them are former Christians. These people are becoming attracted to a fanatical version of Islam for many reasons.

Beware when Christianity becomes just one more “nice” thing. The Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed for standing up to the Nazis, warned of cheap grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

No more cheap grace for us! We are bought by the blood of the Lamb. We are a religion of the cross and the resurrection and we believe that Jesus wants to save all, if only they will live their lives in accordance with His teachings.

We continue to challenge all Muslim leaders, most especially Imams, to condemn the religious motivations of ISIS and to let their congregations know that this is not the way that the Creator God intends Islam to be lived.

Third, we can’t let up politically. Make your voices heard! Let the politicians know that you are outraged by the massacres of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. We are not calling for war, but we are calling for decisive leadership to deal with ISIS and other radical groups. If ISIS is not dealt with now, then we will have to deal with it later, much closer to home.