A Call to Pray for Our Enemies

I am saddened by the tendency of some Christians to call for the sending of missiles upon our nation’s enemies more than to pray for the sending of missionaries to the hardest places.

Certainly, the Islamic State is a horrific evil and must be stopped. The destruction it is bringing on innocent life and human civilization is heartbreaking and should fill us with righteous indignation. Likely, it will take the international community to defeat the Islamic State, and it will almost certainly mean military conflict.

God has given human government to execute justice upon the ungodly (Romans 13:3–4). We live in a war-torn time, and that should sadden us. Most Christians believe that there is such a thing as “just war.” But even just war is tragic (a sign of sin’s destructive power in the world) that grieves God and must not be called for in a cavalier manner.

I am grieved that some influential pastors and Christian leaders eagerly call for the bombing of regions that will inevitably lead to the destruction of human life (innocent image-bearers who suffer as collateral damage), and do so without tears and a broken heart.

So what are we to do as Christians—not first as Americans, but first as followers of Jesus? Much more can be said about these complex issues, but here are three simple, biblical calls to the body of Christ.

1) Pray for our enemies and desire their salvation.

As Christians, we need to renounce the spirit of Jonah who wanted the destruction of God’s merciless enemies and hated the thought of those enemies receiving mercy from God. But God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). If that is God’s heart, should it not be ours? Should we desire the destruction of the wicked? Death to all of God’s enemies?

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JR Vassar (@jrvassar) is lead pastor of Church at the Cross in Grapevine, Texas. He and his wife, Ginger, have three children, and he is the author of Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for More.