PRAYING FOR PARIS

Last week in my blog I wrote, "The world is reeling on the brink of unspeakable events." Tragically, unspeakable events erupted last Friday night in Paris. Let's be praying for Paris and all the people of France.

It needs to be noted that the increasing brutality of some sectors of Islam is not a sign of strength but weakness. Ideologies that are weak at their core often resort to violence for their propagation. Knowing they will not win in the arena of ideas, some extremist Muslims exert fierce coercion. These misguided terrorists are simply acting out their lostness. Their crimes against humanity mandate upon their own psyches that they shroud their atrocities in what they believe is a "holy cause."

And these atrocities are backfiring. Large sectors of Muslims are embarrassed and conflicted by the debased actions of some radical groups espousing Islam. Many Muslims are sickened by the terrorizing of cities, crucifixions and beheadings, and the senseless exile of families - all in the name of their religion. As a result increasing numbers of Muslims are open to other views and many are embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a raging battle within the vast numbers of Muslims for the soul of Islam. Will Islam accommodate twenty-first century realities and live peaceably with the rest of the world? Or will unreasoning jihadists become the dominant voices within Islam?

We must remember that these terrorists, and all who ascribe to their misguided beliefs, are people for whom Jesus died. God loves them. They deserve the gospel and they clearly need its message of forgiveness and reconciliation. As followers of Jesus we have power to rise above the natural human reactions of fear or recrimination. We can draw upon the very love of God that is activated in us by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22). Let's obey our Lord's teaching, "Love your enemies . . . and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matt. 5:14). We also must juxtapose our message, the gospel, in dramatic contrast to all hate-fueled messages and actions.

The news out of the Islamic World is not all bleak. More Muslims are coming to Christ than ever. Significant numbers are experiencing personal encounters with "the Man in white." God's love is breaking through all sorts of barriers to get the gospel to them. Terrorists may have their short day but they do not own the future. The future belongs to Jesus Christ and His eternal kingdom.