The eleventh anniversary of 9-11 ignited a fire storm of jihadist sentiment throughout the Middle East and around the world.
The Obama Administration said the outbreak was due to a YouTube video trailer of the prophet Mohammed that had been released in July (not likely). Others believe that the current mixed signals and weakness in US foreign policy are emboldening those who hate America (more likely).
Bill O’Reilly on The Factor kept asking his guests this week what is it about about Muslim culture that lends to this type of mob hysteria and violence? (No one seemed to give a clear answer.)
Here’s my take: You have to understand “domains” to respond to radical Islam. And you must keep those domains separate in knowing what to do.
Here’s are four ways we must respond to the Islamic uprising.
Whenever I watch a mob scene on television, or ponder a senseless death like that of Libyan US diplomat Christopher Stevens, I go through an array of emotions that all seem to be correct. I am angry at the perpetrators and desire to see them brought to justice. But I also understand the words of Jesus who tells us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
I also see the need for humanitarian outreach to suffering people who seem to release their pent-up feelings on the rich and powerful around them. And I’ve known all my life that evil people will remain evil people until they are evangelized, meet the Savior of the world, and allow him to change their hearts.
So my response can be varied from hatred to compassion.
To be honest, blowing their head off is the easiest response. The temperate responses take more character and work.
Because of these dichotomies, we better come to grips with how to respond to the current fires of global jihad. The key is understanding the different domains of life.
I wrote a book in 1989 called Leadership for the 21st Century: Changing Nations Through the Power of Serving. It was one of the first treatises at the time on the different spheres or domains of life that make up human society. During my research for the book, I grew to appreciate Abraham Kuyper, Dutch theologian, educator, journalist and politician who, over one hundred years ago, clearly taught God’s sovereignty over all areas of life–but also explained man’s designated domains of authority.
Here’s a relevant quote from the book:
“The concept of sphere authority was foundational to Kuyper’s world view. God was the Supreme Sovereign, with all other authority delegated by Him. On earth were various jurisdictions, all responsible directly to God and designed to operate independently and in complimentary unity. The state, or civil government, was a sphere where officials were to operate according to God’s ordinances (Romans 13). But there were other spheres that were to be completely independent of state authority, but also directly accountable to God. These were the various “social circles,” like family, the Church, education, and the arts.”
You might want to read that paragraph again. The quick summary is:
- God is the ultimate authority but has created other authoritative domains on earth.
- The spheres are independent, responsible to God, but designed to compliment one another.
The important idea is because there are different domains, or authorities, there are also very different responses that are required toward human events, both good and evil.
Let’s now apply that understanding the fires of Islamic jihad that are currently scorching US embassies in over twenty nations around the world.
How should we respond?
The primary role of human governments according to Romans 13 is to protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property (how we pursue happiness). Paul says that governments are responsible to punish evil–hence the need for police, courts of justice, and standing armies. Human governments are not the domain of forgiveness and compassion. They are the sphere of justice and force.
This used to be understood in Western society. We do not allow people to avenge their crimes–that is the role of government. We do not believe in vigilantism. That’s is the state’s responsibility. Our government is tasked with providing police, protecting our borders, and sending our troops to protect our national interests.
In the past fifty years, this correct understanding of government has become muddled as western states have become cradle-to-grave welfare societies where instead of simply protecting the people (the proper domain of government), they’ve taken over the functions of other domains by providing for every type of human need.
Stepping out of your domain is tyranny. It also messes up the actions of the other spheres. Government leaders are not called by God to be compassionate and “make friends” with the world. Their role is to protect, fight for, defend our people–in other words, to be strong in the face of evil.
This is the four-year error of the Obama administration. Governments do not bring peace through weakness or conciliation. As Ronald Reagan taught us, governments create peace through strength (the righteous use of force).
One reason the Islamic world is currently raging is that this administration has projected weakness to the world–both economically and in foreign policy. Evil doesn’t smile at weakness–it tries to cut off your head. How can evil be brought back into line? Through wise use of strength and force (justice) that is greater than its own.
The American government is truly missing George W Bush these days. For all his faults, he was a strong leader who commanded respect in the world through not tolerating evil. That’s government’s role–their domain. Our current president doesn’t understand that. We need a different kind of leader to put out the fires by staring down the jihadists with a wise use of force.
Needed government response: Vote once again for leaders who believe in peace through strength.
Bill O’Reilly kept asking his guests, “Why are radical Muslims–their culture–so reactionary, violent, and murderous?” He continued, “When Al-Jezeera puts out commentaries that defame or make fun of Christ, we don’t storm the Arab embassies and murder their diplomats. We may protest or boycott, but we believe in free speech and not in mob violence and rule.”
So why is the jihadist world different?
One reason is the invisible demonic domain that is active throughout the earth. Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and his demons love nothing more than to hurt and destroy human beings (John 8:44). Cultures that do not embrace the love and forgiveness of God lay themselves wide open for the venom of demons in their social veins. Without godly self-control, they feel little conscience toward rioting, killing, or raping the innocent.
Anarchy is simply Satan unleashed in human beings. There is no better explanation than that for what is taking place right now all over the world. You are looking at human crowds that are being stirred up by devils. A spiritual reaction is required by a spiritual problem.
Needed prayer response: Dust off the Frank Peretti books and give yourself to fervent intercession against the demonic powers.
This realm often requires a very different response for those who have been victims of evil, like the families of those killed on 9-11, or more recently, the loved ones connected with Ambassador Stevens and the others murdered in Libya.
But Jesus was very clear in the Sermon on the Mount how individuals–not nations–are to respond to evil. We are to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, and even pray for those who are persecuting us (Matthew 5:38-48).
Why? Shouldn’t we retaliate–blow off their heads?
No, that’s the government’s job–and they can do it better and impersonally with fairness and justice. Jesus doesn’t let us take violence into our personal hands because we end up becoming like those who hurt us.
Revenge destroys. It eats us up and ruins the gracious image of God in us. So when you see human injustice on the television screen, or experience it personally in your heart, don’t become like those who violated you. Support the government to bring evil-doers to justice. That’s not your domain.
Needed individual response: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Finally, there is the domain of the Church that we must consider. We said that governments must work for justice through strength, intercessors must pray that Christ would bind the spiritual powers who enflame mob behavior, and, as individuals, we are to love and forgive those who would hurt us.
But there is one other vital domain that has a role in combatting global jihad–the Church of Jesus Christ. Mistakenly, we took on the role of “government” during the Medieval Crusades and fought the Muslims sword to sword. That was a huge mistake.
The Church must be the arm of compassion among the suffering masses of the Muslim world, and also a gentle voice of conversion to Jesus as Savior and Lord. There are over one billion Muslims in the world today because we have not adequately shared Christ’s Good News with them. They are the least unevangelized peoples on earth. Many have never heard of the God who died for their sins.
Throughout history, when the Church failed to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, God used world events to bring the unsaved to them. The Vikings were allowed to conquer Europe because Christians of the era failed to go to the north to evangelize them.
So God brought them down from the north! Through this exchange, many became Christians and to this day, Scandinavia is a region that has known the ways of the Prince of Peace.
Is God using global jihad to get our attention? Have we failed to go, failed to pray for the largest unreached group of people on earth?
The riots indicate yes. If we don’t go to them (in mercy), they are coming to us (in judgment).
Needed Church response: Pray for the Islamic nations. Support missionaries who labor there. Go yourself as God leads and empowers.
And don’t forget the domains of life.
The ones you occupy determine everything you do.