Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Loving our Enemies: What if we prayed for ISIS?

Over the last couple weeks I've seen a myriad of posts and articles about how we pray for victims of disaster and violence around the world. But the question that's been going through my mind keeps circling back. Who is praying for ISIS? Who is praying for Al Qaeda, or Al Shabab?

The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize anyone's suffering, or any tragedy around the globe. The victims of the Paris attacks and also the victims of other attacks we've seen in Beirut and Kenya this year all deserve our attention, our compassion and our prayer. I want to give credit to all the amazing things that individuals have done, the compassion shown and the goodness exemplified within these tragedies. But this is not the focus of this article.

The focus of this article is to ask, what can we do about it? Specifically, what is the response of the church? What is the Jesus way to respond? And I believe that the answer to this is actually very simple.

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

I said simple, not easy.

Jesus had a radical way of standing up against hate and aggression. He taught that the only way to actually defeat evil is to stop it from spreading. Defeat evil with good. As Martin Luther King said:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

This idea, and these words of Jesus quoted earlier are some of the most widely loved and appreciated teachings of Jesus. We adore and often cling to Jesus teachings of loving others, including our enemies. We claim that this kind of teachings is the grounding, and lifeblood of the Jesus we know, experience and worship.

So why does it seem like no one is praying for ISIS? Maybe the people who recognize this and live out the teachings of praying for those we see as the worst kind of person in the world aren't all that active in social media. I don't know.

But here's what I do know. I believe in the power of prayer to make a true difference. And so I implore the Christian world out there. Pray for Paris and pray for Beirut. Pray for the victims of misguided and terrible violence. But also pray for the enemies and perpetrators. In this we have a hope for change.

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