Peace Within, Not Without

There is a lot of concern in our country about the growing persecution of Christians in the Middle-East. ISIS in particular (these days) has taken to beheading those that will not denounce Jesus as Lord. While we know we should pray for them and not condone violence, many (even in the Body) are hoping someone “puts a stop to it” at all/any costs.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10) Yes, we want it to end. Yes, we pray for the victims and their families. Yes, we pray for those that are doing this evil. But we should never, as believers, pray for “American justice” (aka violent military action) taken against them – especially since they obviously do not have Christ in their hearts.

Paul said (Romans 14:17) that the Kingdom is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said (Matthew 10:34) He didn’t come to bring peace (although He did bring the Kingdom). Who’s right? Both. The peace Paul is talking about is internal, in our hearts and minds. The (lack of) peace Jesus is referring to has to do with relationships being torn apart because of some knowing/following Him and others not.

To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
Luke 6:29 ESV

Jesus was all for flipping over some tables and shaking things up in the name of putting things right (Mark 11:15-17), but He would never go as far as to kill someone (or pray for the death of one) who disagreed with or persecuted Him! On the contrary, Jesus interceded for those who were torturing/executing Him…

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34 ESV

Let’s follow Christ’s example and pray for the forgiveness of these oppressors/persecutors and for their hearts to be turned to the Lord.

Can I get an amen?

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