Saul of Tarsus was a passionate defender of what he believed was the word of God. As a Pharisee, he was found blameless according to the righteousness found in the Law. According to Saul’s understanding, the God of the Torah ordered the genocide of tribes who did not serve him. So in his great zeal, he became a terrorist, a persecutor of the Christians who he believed were turning the chosen people away from Yahweh’s law to follow a heretic called Jesus.
Today ISIS is a passionate defender of the Quran and the Old Testament God who, according to what they read there, ordered the extermination of those who would not convert and obey the Law. They are just like Saul in their zeal, and are behaving in the same way. Many of them are willing to sacrifice their lives to fulfill Allah’s will.
Most people, including American Evangelicals believe ISIS should be exterminated.
It only makes sense to destroy them, they reason, if the slaughter of innocent victims is to be stopped. But does this reasoning come from the mind of God?
It’s interesting to note that there was no plot among the early church to kill Saul. Most likely this was because they were followers of Christ who taught them to love their enemies, to do good to them, to turn the other cheek and pray for them. As Stephen was being stoned to death, he fell to his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Saul was present, giving approval to his death, but Stephen’s prayers and the prayers of the church aligned with the heart of God, who stopped Saul himself. He didn’t strike
Saul dead, but overwhelmed him with his glory and called him to serve the kingdom.
God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all would come to repentance. I wonder how many Christians are laboring in prayer for ISIS. Sadly, many would revel in the destruction of such evil doers even though God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Yet there are still those that follow the Prince of Peace; that serve a God who loves and forgives. They practice Jesus’ teaching regarding overcoming evil with good. God help us to turn from our obsession with self preservation and to be possessed of his heart and passion for all to know him!