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3 Things Christians Should Consider in Light of Radical Islam

The West is at the front end of what will almost certainly be a multi-decadal war against radical Islamism. We saw so again this week, as violence marred Chattanooga, Tenn.

Others, better informed than I, can report on the details and debates around that tragedy. However, it is increasingly clear that this will be a global war for many years, often made up by lone-wolf attacks in the West, wars against religious minorities in the Middle East and (perhaps) occasional spectacular terror attacks around the world.

Many thoughts come to mind, and many more issues should be considered. However, in this brief space, I simply would like to suggest three things we might want to consider, uniquely for those who call themselves followers of Jesus, in light of His words about our neighbors, enemies and government.

First, we must love our neighbors, including our Muslim ones.

The fact is, the vast majority of Muslims in this country want to live peaceful lives. They are our neighbors and often our friends.

As I wrote in a USAToday article a couple of years ago:

On the day before the Tsarnaev brothers were identified as Chechen Muslims, I drove by my Muslim neighbor’s home on the way out of our neighborhood. His trash can had spilled into the street, so I stopped, picked everything up and put it back on his curb. Why? Because I know him. He is my neighbor. Because our kids play together. And he more realistically represents his religion to me than terrorists do. …

As an evangelical leader and researcher, I have no vested interest in—and receive no personal benefit from—speaking out for my Muslim neighbors and friends. Yet, while it is irresponsible not to see the link between radical Islam and terrorism, it is the height of ignorance to assume that all (or most, or even many) Muslims are terrorists.

Most of the Muslims we know are kind people who love their families, their communities and their country. And, our proper response to them is to listen to the simple words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor” (Mark 12:31).

Second, we must pray for and love our enemies, even our radical Islamist ones.

Yes, that’s what Jesus taught and it sure sounds unrealistic, or even offensive today. To some, the words “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) must not apply to us today—it’s too unrealistic.

But they do.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and leads the Stetzer ChurchLeaders podcast. Ed is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.