This has been on my mind and heart for a long time now. I suppose it could be because this group has been all over the news, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE is talking about it. One of the things that God told us was that we WILL get persecuted for the sake of the cross. Luke 21:10 “Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Persecution will come (an absolute) no matter who we are because we are living in the world, even though we are not of the world. Therefore, what is happening to our brothers and sisters all over the world, regardless of race or color, is a tragedy, but they are giving witness to the cross of Jesus Christ, and they are holding the faith under those strong persecutions. What they are enduring is what Jesus foretold long ago, but they will receive many blessings for staying strong through that, just as we will when we endure our own persecution.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
What if I were to tell you that we are just as bad and just as evil as the ISIS group is? What if I were to tell you that their sin is no different than ours? James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Galatians 3:10 says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Even Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”
You see, ALL sin, no matter what it is, is the same in the eyes of the Lord. It is ALL counted to us as unrighteousness, and it is ALL deserving of death. But, the great new is, that those who submit themselves wholly to the Cross of Christ are allowing God to work in them and make them new creations. God is now making them righteous bit by bit as they draw closer and closer to Him. All people, no matter who they are, no matter if they are a terrorist group or not, are in need of that same gift from God, and are in need of His salvation and renewal. In the eyes of the Lord, we are all wretched sinners. We are all evil, we are all unrighteous because of our sin. But Christ covers those who submit themselves to Him with the righteousness of Christ, and He can do that for the ISIS people too.
I am a teacher of a third and fourth grade class, and the troubles plastered all over the news are no secret to them. They are very familiar with the happenings. But no worries, if they are not, there will surely be another student who will inform them. At the beginning of the school year, we had a very intense conversation about all of this. We talked about who ISIS is, what they stand for, what religion they originate from. We talked about why they are doing what they are doing and why they believe that it is the “right thing to do.” We talked about religious persecution and what Paul wrote about it. We talked about what this means for our brothers and sisters around the world, and what this means for us as Christians. By the end of that conversation, my students had come to one general conclusion. They hate ISIS with all they are, and ISIS will NEVER go to heaven (another absolute). When they came to their conclusion about how they felt, I asked them a question,”Why did Jesus come?” Of course they were able to tell me to save us and allow us to go to heaven. I asked them if they did bad things sometimes. They said yes. We then talked for a while about how Jesus claims that all fall short and sin. All are deserving of eternal death because of that sin, and no one is exempt from that consequence. However, because of what Jesus did, He actually took our place in that consequence and give us eternal life because Jesus died instead of us.
I asked them if Jesus loves everyone and they responded with a unanimous “Yes!” Then I asked, “If Jesus loves everyone, He died for everyone, and everyone has the opportunity to have the free gift of salvation if their hearts are reformed to Him, then why would ISIS be any different?” Did Jesus say, , “For God so loved the world (except ISIS) and gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him (except ISIS) shall not perish but everyone (except ISIS) shall have eternal life?” No, He gave that gift for everyone, and since everyone is created in the likeness and image of God, yes, including ISIS, then everyone has the opportunity to receive that gift.
Since that original conversation, we have had many more pretty much the same as that. They still struggle to understand that prayer is the most powerful weapon against our enemies, and that God has the power to change hearts, And they still struggle to understand that ISIS has the opportunity to go to heaven too with us, and that is what Jesus desires for them. Just because they are doing evil right now, does not mean that they will continue to do that to their death. No one is exempt from the love of God.
It is important to understand the power of prayer through all of this. We can not change someone. We can not make them believe, and we can not make them stop doing what they are doing, no matter who we are or who they are. That job is reserved for the King. He is the only one who can change hearts and save people, and He is very good at it. Yes, it is true that the ISIS people are doing terrible things and they are very much wrong. But we do terrible things too and we are wrong more times than right, yet Christ died to save us, and we will benefit from the free gift of eternal life if our hearts are submitted to Him. So why are we allowing ourselves to believe that ISIS is unforgivable and that they will never be like us? Why are we being hypocritical?
Father in Heaven, I pray a shift over the world right now. I pray that you place your hands over the hearts, eyes, and ears of all living beings to open them to the realization that no one is righteous, not even one. I pray that you open our hearts to prayer, and deep devoted prayer in your name that we would all life up the people of ISIS to you. I pray for a shift in the atmosphere over the ISIS group. I pray that you shift their hearts to be inclined to you and open a little bit to you. I pray that you move them and change them in whatever way possible. Take them from what they are doing and change them like you changed Saul to Paul. Allow them to see that what they are doing is wrong and move them to change. Move them to draw to you and your spirit so that you can make them a new creation by the blood of the lamb. Thank you for being the one who can change hearts and minds. AMEN!!
This is just one of many accounts of Islamic fighters with ISIS coming to Christ. God is on the move, ALLELUIA!!!