Wineskins Archive

February 12, 2014

Would You Enlist in the Battle for Human Souls? (Jan-Feb 2002)

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by L. Wesley Jones
January – February, 2002

Jonah was “greatly displeased” with God’s mercy for Nineveh. “He became angry.” Among the reasons for his anger North American Christians may find their reasons for anger with Islam. Jonah had “a mistaken patriotism,” writes W.J. Deane, “which could not endure to find mercy extended to a heathen nation…” A confusion of patriotism and faith does not serve Christians well as they struggle to distinguish terrorists who are so brutal, from Muslims to whom they have a mission.

Muslims and Christians now view each other through the prism of international events. With this violently adjusted world view, it has become simpler to hate than to love. It is even simpler to send smart bombs than it is to send the good news. “They” deserve the blood letting because of what “they” have done to “us.” The un-proclaimed gospel of Jesus cannot be launched from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian sea, and may be silenced in favor of rockets.

Before Islam becomes a Nineveh whose repentance would disappoint North American Christians, the Qur’an should at least be studied, along with the commentary of actual Muslim scholars. Just as Christians would not want Muslims to see Christians in the light of Northern Ireland or Serbia, Muslims do not want Christians to see them in the light of September 11.

Jihad, or holy war, is one of the specters at which Western Christians look with fear. One passage of the Qur’an reads, Fight in the Cause of God/Those who fight you/But do not transgress limits/For God loves not transgressors (2:190).

Preference for correct interpretation should be given to Muslim scholars as they look at their own Book. Abdullah Yusuf Ali supplied the above translation and made the following comment in 1938, long before it could have been a shield of current Muslim activity: “In general, it may be said that Islam is the religion of peace, goodwill mutual understanding and good faith.”

Abdullah Yusuf Ali also places the battle cry often heard by new readers of the Qur’an in the Muslim past. It is roughly parallel with the battle cry of the Judeo-Christian past as God sent armies to destroy the enemies of his plan for his people.

Christians are called into battle. They must understand the real enemy of God’s message and the higher calling to battle. In that light Christians have no new reason to go to battle because of September 11. The calling has been the same since the cross and the resurrection. As God’s children look at Islam and all the world for which Christ died, the call is clear: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5, NIV).

Since the terrorist events of autumn 2001, hatred has been prevalent and visceral response commonplace. Many were cool to the mission of “going into all the world.” Since these events a fever of patriotism has prepared a population for sacrifice to fight as the world fights. There is passion in songs, flags, and fund raising. Young men and women are putting lives on the line, on the front line. Any citizen sees these commitments with admiration. Anyone knows his or her own life may be preserved by the actions of these noble soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines. These citizens too stand and sing, God Bless America, often with tears.

The urgent question for every child of God is this: Can the passion and fervor sweeping North America in her own defense, be brought into the higher battle, the battle for the souls of human beings? That battle is described in Rev. 19: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war … and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (NIV).

The supreme beauty and power of Faithful and True is seen in his death for all. The higher battle is waged with this good news and it is imperative that the entire human race hear that good news.New Wineskins

L. Wesley Jones

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