Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus (2)

fleeing finding.jpgIn my previous post about this book I mentioned my initial disappointment when it didn’t seem to fulfill my expectations regarding testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus.

Then I recognised that “finding Jesus” wasn’t only applicable to new converts fleeing their old religious affiliation, but it also applied to professing followers of Jesus who would find a deeper relationship with Him when they faced unimaginable adversity.

My initial expectation was eventually fulfilled, but the hoped for evidence of Muslims finding the truth of Christ was often closely related to existing believers finding that deeper faith, as the security of their past was stripped away.

“For me as a believer, life is even better now than it was before ISIS. There are new opportunities and open doors to speak out loud about Jesus, to talk about Islam. A lot of Muslims are questioning who is God, and you only need to look on the Internet to see so many Muslims saying ‘if that’s God, I don’t want Him anymore.'”

Through the upheaval caused by the brutaility of ISIS and the resulting flight of those in their path, previously insular groups were brought together with a common plight.

…one of the themes that has come out of this displacement is the fact that Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi communities are no longer living in enclaves, isolated from the villages around them.

The brutality of ISIS forced everone to leave their homes and engage with people they had previously avoided…

How easy it is to sit here in the “west” and choose to read a book about Muslims coming to faith in Jesus in the Middle East, being turned against the religion of their birth by the evils they see in ISIS and other extremist groups who claim to embody Islam; as well as the stories of Muslims being pointed towards the truth of Jesus through dreams and visions.
Testimonies like that are encouraging, a joy to read and hear.

What isn’t so easy is taking the time to consider the other part of the story – the part about perecuted Christians, about followers of Jesus losing everything they had, being driven from their homes by the very same ISIS.

And yet those Christians, stripped of material security, play an important part in the aspect of the story we find so encouraging. If we REALLY consider the changes experienced by those believers, and if we considered their experience in light of scripture, and what Jesus said about those who follow Him; we ought to see how closely they fit the biblical descriptions, and how we in the west don’t.

If we could take a step back and dispationately compare the two vastly different Christian experiences which would we see as the most authentically and effectively lived, Christian witness?

“I look at the west and wonder if Satan uses our affluence to limit the growth of the church. I wonder whether his tactic for keeping God out is by providing comfort, by giving so many riches and so much wealth that people feel like they don’t need God.”

“When real persecution happens, you’re not afforded that. You have to call on God multiple times a day. Can you imagine what it does to your faith when you don’t know where the next meal is coming from or if you’re an Iraqi that’s lost a million dollars and two homes and a couple of cars and are sitting in a tent freezing in winter? Maybe that’ll be the first time in your life that you find yourself really calling out to God.”

Most of us here in the west won’t face the loss and tragedy being experienced elswehere, where  evil forces like ISIS, or their inevitable successors, express hatred through killing, stealing and destroying on a massive scale.

But we ought to meditate on the question of our own response if we did have to experience what so many have already faced elsewhere in the world. Would we be able (or willing) to trust God if those things we’d considered to be His blessings were torn away from us?

One thing that makes me think we in the prosperous West might find it difficult to summon up that willingness is the evidence of how even Western “believers” have responded to the plight of those who have been through the experience of losing home, possessions and family through the violence of others elsewhere in the world.

As they flee from the violence, seeking sanctuary in the west, they have ben rejected, shut out, pushed away in fear. Our fear. Fear of the disruption and cost that so many needy refugees would create to our comforatble, established lives.

Towards the end of the book the authors quote an interview related to their topic.

“I think there’s a lot of Christians who, rather than go and fulfill the Great Commission, they said, ‘I think I’ll stay home and pray for the Great Commission.’ And God said, ‘I want you to be part of it, so I’m going to bring the Great Commission to you'”

David Garrison

What has been the reaction of many when God brings the Great Commission to us?

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Faithfulness and Disowning

If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself

(2 Tim 2)

The proponents of “Once Saved Always Saved” like to use part of the above section of scripture to support their view.
They overlook the bit about disowning and highlight the part about God’s faithfulness.

They must read this as if it means faithlessness on our part towards Him doesn’t matter because He will remain faithful towards us regardless.

But that interpretation is undermined by the preceding statements about disowning, and the reality that the latter part of the quote is about God’s faithfulness to HIMSELF (clue is in “he cannot disown himself”).

So no matter how much He desires to see everyone saved, He cannot grant salvation if doing so compromises the righteous aspect His character.

People always prefer to recognise God as love – but aren’t as keen to balance that with His righteousness.
The tension between those two parts of His character is the reason why God’s love for the world was expressed in the giving of His Son and NOT in the giving of salvation without the sacrifice of His Son.

God’s righteousness made it necessary for His love to be costly to HIM.

Covenant and Controversy part 3

We need to interpret the modern return to the land of Israel and the constitution of this modern phenomenon called the State of Israel.

We need to view this not as the fulfilment of eschatological prophecy, but we need to view it as the preliminary requirement that sets in motion the fulfilment of eschatological prophecy. Meaning that now they are in the land, these events can unfold. Now that they’re in the land these things can take place.

Because how do you flee Jerusalem if you are not in Jerusalem?
How can you be banished from Israel, if you’re not in the land of Israel?
There’s all of these verses about eschatological, apocalyptic expulsion and exile from the land that presuppose a Jewish presence in the land. (Dalton, Thomas, Covenant and Controversy part 3)

This is the third of a series of three videos. The other two parts have been posted previously.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.

Covenant and Controversy part 2

 

This is the second of a series of three videos. Part one has already been posted. The other part will be posted later.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.

Covenant and Controversy part 1

Covenant and Controversy Part One: The Great Rage from Covenant & Controversy on Vimeo.

This is the first of a series of three videos. The other two parts will be posted over the next week or two.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.