Four Lessons Christians Should Learn from ISIS

by Frank Viola

The recent spate of terrorism employed by ISIS has scared the liver out of people around the world, it’s barbarism even chilling the blood.

Numerous Christians have weighed-in on the problem. And emotions run hot on all sides, sometimes to over-boiling. Social media sites are ablaze with opinions, laments, and outrage.

Some are clamoring, “Off with theirheads! Spare none of them!”

In the eyes of these believers, the atrocities spawned by ISIS relegates them to sub-human status, and thus, there’s no concern for their individual redemption. This segment of the Christian populace has no problem unsheathing their swords when it comes to those who exist to murder, maim, and menace other mortals.

Other Christians are focusing their sights on the evils of war, alleging that any defense of human life which involves force is akin to taking the mark of the beast. “Killing is always wrong,” so they argue.

I’m monumentally disinterested in getting caught up in a “if I were in charge, this is what I’d do” fruitless debate.

Instead, here are 4 observations regarding ISIS that aren’t getting much airplay today. They are …

1) The ISIS people are far better at evangelism (to their horrific cause) than many who follow this world’s true Lord.

To date, there are over 31,000 armed members of ISIS and that number has doubled since last year. Suicide missions aren’t uncommon for them.

How many Christians do you know who are discipling people to eat, sleep, and breath Jesus Christ even to the point of giving their mortal lives for Him?

Methinks we need to take a sober look at this. Something is wrong when a false religion can generate more zeal and devotion to its faith than most Christians have for their Lord. (I’m not speaking about numbers, but the quality and level of allegiance.)

I’m depressed to say that ISIS is using brilliant internet strategies to recruit people to their dark side while the Christian population, by and large, is busy having political and doctrinal beatdowns with one another on their Facebook threads.

(And for those of you who are pedantic, I’m defining “evangelism” loosely here to refer to the means by which a person is converted to anything.)

2) Behind the savage physical violence that the members of ISIS carry out is a spiritual realm that’s real and active.

When we’re watching people beheaded and blown apart in public venues, we often forget the words of Paul.

“For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

~ Ephesians 6:12

Point. No matter how superb the military strategy or how savvy the Intelligence, every country who seeks to stop ISIS is up against unseen forces in other realms which are operating in and through the ISIS members.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” 

~ Ephesians 2:1-2

To wit, may the body of Christ be strategic and intentional in aligning itself in serious prayer and intercession to push back the darkness, military responses notwithstanding.

3) Despite the despicable behavior of the ISIS group, there are souls for whom Jesus died. 

If someone was persuaded to follow the dark side, is it not possible that they can be persuaded to follow the true Light of the World?

To stay with the Star Wars analogy even Darth Vader repented at the end of his life and made amends for his wickedness.

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

~ Corrie ten Boom

Speaking as a US citizen, I wish those large Christian organizations in the USA that have money, power, and technology, would pray, strategize, and launch their own evangelization efforts targeted at those who have been recruited into this savage wickedness.

4) The existence of ISIS and their threats should affect our relationship with the Lord.

God’s object is to make a spiritual people who know their Lord deeply and express His love, power, and majesty together. A people who are having Christ formed in them.

It’s a fact that tragedies and impending troubles have a knack for waking us up. On this score, let me close with a brief word from T. Austin-Sparks:

“May none of us find ourselves in this hour of darkness like the foolish virgins, with insufficient spirituality, so that the door of His fullness is closed to us. Spiritually cannot be obtained in an hour of emergency, it is only proved then. Let us see to it that we are not resting on things, be they most devout; but rather learning to know the Lord.”

It’s time to stop playing religious games and become serious about our life in Christ and our growth into the deeper things that relate to Him.

Only this will get us through in the days ahead. A shallow, superficial, status-quo-maintaining Christianity simply cannot.

So it seems to me.

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