ISIS and the Gospel

How many more videoed ISIS murders will the world tolerate? It isn’t a pleasant conversation to have; but the tragic brutality notwithstanding, one can’t help but wonder how horrific the scenes must become before there is a global, collective rising up of the human race to halt the butchery. The extermination of six million Jews during World War 2 began with a handful of murders here, another box-car-full there—but all of it (at least initially) beyond the eye and knowledge of an unsuspecting world. Not so the ISIS brutalities that are carefully, even professionally choreographed so all can witness (albeit after the fact) their bloody reprisals. Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians, purportedly lined up for a mass beheading last week. Forty-five Iraqis reported burned to death in cages this week not unlike the hapless Jordanian air force pilot. And all of it at the hands of a taunting organization of terrorists. I am not advocating a “nuke them all” military strategy to end the cruel mayhem. The sword rarely halts the sword. But with every new ISIS headline, the conviction deepens that some sinister mind is cruelly dragging this race into a raging cauldron—for purposes perhaps not yet entirely clear to us. Will a popular moral leader finally speak up and unite the world in a crusade to obliterate such moral debauchery? But as long as all of this is “over there,” how could any leader, political or moral, effectively mobilize the world community? Must it come “over here” first? What lies ahead for us all? Jesus prophesied a “final sign” of His return: Throughout history His followers have been motivated to seek the fulfillment of this last sign, ostensibly to hasten the return of their Lord. But the ratcheting up of human misery and suffering across the earth is surely fresh impetus to obey Christ’s command. What else but the light of His Gospel could possibly penetrate the moral darkness and heal the crippling pain of hopelessness that far, far too many suffer today? Not only in the Middle East, but in the West as well. “. . . from every quarter of this world of ours comes the cry of sin-stricken hearts for a knowledge of the God of love. Millions upon millions have never so much as heard of God or of His love revealed in Christ. It is their right to receive this knowledge. They have an equal claim with us in the Saviour’s mercy” (Education 262-263). “An equal claim” on Jesus’ mercy—black-robed ISIS executioners are not immune to Calvary’s piercing love, are they? Neither are the sobbing loved ones whose wails rend the air. All have “an equal claim” on the Savior’s mercy. And so to all He sends us. For that reason “Kingdom Growth” is fresh language at Pioneer to express this university congregation’s unrelenting commitment to go into all the world, to send into all the world, to give into all the world. “An equal claim” on the Savior’s mercy. Kingdom Growth. Growing Christ’s kingdom one saved life at a time. Like the pioneers. 2015 and beyond.