Following the Paris and Beirut massacres and the social media discourse that ensued, as a reasonably regular twit I tweeted the following on 21 November: “In all the jihadist killings and hatred, WE MUST SEE JESUS – a King who does not kill anyone, but gives himself in love to die for everyone”
Then I was stimulated by Fr Francesco Follo’s meditation on ‘King of Truth and Love’ (in John 18:33-37) and I thought more about what I tweeted. So I wanted to elaborate and I posted this on my FaceBook page on 21 November 2015:
Jesus didn’t impose his Caliphate as a domain of lies, hatred & violence. He witnessed to the truth as an inviting Kingdom of self-giving love. His Royalty was exercised NOT as an imposition of an intolerant cruel domain, but as a witness (a martyr) to the truth of love – for this very reason King Jesus was born and came into the world (John 18:37). And everyone who is of the truth, who seeks truth, will hear his voice, his message of love.
What is the truth of love? Jesus didn’t spill the blood of anyone, adding to sin, but shed his own blood for everyone, atoning for sin. He does not violently sacrifice anyone, but sacrifices himself, absorbing all violence for everyone. He takes a cross as his throne, thorns as his crown, to rule not by the sword to behead or the Kalashnikov to massacre, but by the truth of love to save and set free. THIS love, and its truth, is the greatest power known in all created reality. It will ultimately conquer all and reign over all.
Jesus does not stand up to wrap himself in a suicide vest and blow himself up to kill as many people as possible. He stands up to disrobe himself of all privilege and power, stripped naked with nothing to hide, wrapped only in transparent self-sacrificing love, coming humbly on bended knee simply to wash humanity’s feet, to save as many people as possible – all who respond to him.
Each and every Christ-follower is called to be and do the same as Jesus – to extend his Caliphate of Truth and Love on earth, in every village, town, city, nation & continent. We must stand up in these perilous times to strip ourselves of all prejudice and pretension, wrap ourselves with the naked transparency of Christ’s love, and be martyrs (witnesses) of the truth by sacrificially giving ourselves away in love to save as many as possible.
THIS, I would say, is the true Christian answer to ‘the third world war’, as Pope Francis now publicly calls it. It is the Jesus-answer not only to ISIL, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, and all other jihadist movements and enemies of truth and love, but it’s the answer for ALL humanity, planet earth included, lost in a downward spiral of hatred and violence, fear and hopelessness.
Hear me all followers of Jesus: we not only have the answer… we ARE the answer in the name of Jesus by the power of his Holy Spirit of Love.
Therefore, BE it! LIVE it! DO it!
A postscript on 9 December 2015 (the first day of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis):
Two days ago Donald Trump, Republican front-runner for the nominee in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, said the White House should not allow any Muslims whatsoever into the USA – qualified later by, “only for a period of time”. This feeds public fear and perceptions that all Muslims are violent terrorists, or at least potentially so. It feeds religious prejudice and polarization, racial bigotry and hatred. It feeds ‘holy war theology’ (killing in God’s name), whether it’s Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim holy war. It’s what drove the Christian Crusades in centuries past – a very dark chapter in Christian history – and it’s what drives Jihadist ideology today.
We must distinguish between the majority of Muslims and the Jihadists (also now called Islamists). Muslims in general reject the cruel ideology and radical fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran by Jihadists. They must vigorously condemn and resist the Jihadists, for their own integrity, and of their fellow human being. The fact is: the majority of people killed by Jihadists are Muslims… leading to disillusionment and questioning.
What can individual Christians and local Churches do?
A) SEE: What good is God working in this international crisis? Perhaps the greatest opportunity for evangelism and revival due to mass migration, Muslim disillusionment, world fear and pain, a third world war?
B) DO: Not to fear and hate Muslims, but to love all perceived enemies as Jesus taught (Matt 5:44-48), by caring for them, even taking them in (Luke 10:25-37). BE the good news in the sacrificial example and Spirit of Jesus, as I’ve described above.
C) SPEAK: Having done good, then speak the good news of Jesus to all, especially the stranger in your midst (migrants). Break the sound barrier and gossip the gospel!
D) PRAY: Governments are in crisis, not knowing what to do! Pray for them, for wisdom and courage to uphold justice and punish wrongdoers – they “carry the sword” to do this (Rom 13:1-5) – to collaborate with other governments to decisively defeat ISIL and its affiliates. It’s a massive challenge; they need prayer! But Christians, of all people, know the ideology that drives Jihad is a spirit/belief that can only be defeated spiritually by prayer and witness (in martyrdom of good works, evangelism & missions, Matt 5:13-16).
Followers of Jesus cannot be reactionary, build walls, bay for blood or be associated with holy war sentiments. In keeping with Francis’ call, let us make 2016 A Jubilee of God’s Mercy: join the revolution of tenderness by being and doing the love of God daily!