Can we get serious? Because our enemies are dead serious.
I grieve for Paris, and for the families who lost loved ones. I grieve for those who are frightened. The two largest terror attacks against civilians in the West in this century both took place in cities boasting a Statue of Liberty. I don’t think that was missed by the Islamic jihadists who perpetrated the slaughter in Paris.
The plaque beneath the lady sitting in New York harbor reads:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
There is no such verse attributed to the smaller copy in Paris, yet the verse presciently revealed the wretched plans of murderous rage by an enemy who infiltrates as a homeless, tempest-tossed refugee. Undoubtedly we will now see the Syrian refugee crisis discussed and dissected by world leaders and their mouthpieces, as hundreds of thousands stream out of war-torn areas into the West (including the United States).
How many of those are embedded jihadists? We don’t know, but the number is more than zero. Some in America are stocking up on ammunition, preparing for open war. Some say we’re already at war. By most definitions, we are: Our military is engaged against an enemy who is willing to attack us at any opportunity at home or abroad, with their goal our enslavement to their rule.
War is upon us, but war is not the answer, the hope, or the end. Winning the military war is really not in doubt, anyway. The United States cannot be conquered from outside these shores. Jihadists have been attacking soft targets in America for years since 9/11, the most recent example being a recruiting office in Chattanooga. A larger-scale, coordinated attack like what just happened in Paris would wake up the sleeping giant from our denial—that these events are just “isolated, lone-wolf” incidents.
Many of us know they’re not, but we’re not serious.
I just wrote that America can’t be conquered by an invader, and I also wrote that we’re not serious. But if we can’t be conquered, then why should we worry? We should be very worried, because we’re fighting the wrong war. A few generations ago, we would know that—instinctively and experientially, we’d know everything we need to know and pursue it with clear-eyed determination. After fighting World War II, we’d realize how World War III could be avoided.
Sadly, that knowledge has mostly passed from living memory, and we’re left with a dim memory of history that has been distorted and remade into some social quest for world peace. The best illustration of our blindness and lack of gravitas may be an encounter between German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the evangelist Billy Graham.
I was invited to have coffee one morning with Konrad Adenauer before he retired as the Chancellor of Germany. When I walked in, I expected to meet a tall, stiff, formal man who might even be embarrassed if I brought up the subject of religion. After the greeting, the Chancellor suddenly turned to me and said, “Mr. Graham, what is the most important thing in the world?” Before I could answer, he had answered his own question. He said, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world. If Jesus Christ is in the grave, then I don’t see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon.”
At the end of World War II, the remaining inhabitants of Earth were worn out. There were no winners or losers any longer. The war was not about taking land or spoils. With the Axis powers defeated, there was only starvation, ruin, and hopelessness in Europe. All the weapons mankind has ever produced were used in that war—today we’re just more accurate, but not much else has changed—and at the end of it, only the resurrection of Jesus Christ offered hope.
The combined Herculean efforts of every nation in the world to eliminate hunger, disease, corruption, and evil are doomed to fail. This is not, as secular progressives would tell us, because religion is the problem. Religion is simply the expression of a moral worldview. Secular progressives—even militant atheists—must admit that living in a totally amoral world, where torturing babies is just another personal preference and not evil (because there is no evil), is a world where nobody would choose to live. We must adhere to some definition of evil to make our lives coherent and relevant.
And only one religion among all of them offers supernatural forgiveness. Islam offers eternal life, but no forgiveness—only jihad guarantees a place in paradise. Hinduism and Buddhism offer iterative atonement before finally absolution is obtained by the destruction of self over millennia. Judaism offers atonement through sacrifice: Christ became the sacrifice for all. The singular sign of Jesus’ forgiveness of sin is His resurrection. Without forgiveness of sin, mankind has no hope. Adenauer saw that through the rubble of war.
We are locked in a physical war with Islamists who see their quest for jihad as attainment of their highest fulfillment of Allah’s command. They can only attain paradise through their own sacrifice; by dying while punishing unbelievers for their sin. Christians attain eternal life through Christ’s forgiveness and nothing else, but along with forgiveness is the deposit of love into the Christian’s life. It’s overflowing love, and without the overflow, we are nothing at all (see 1 Corinthians 13).
Followers of Islam are taught that Jesus was a great prophet, but they are not taught He is the Son of God. In fact, such a claim to a Muslim is somewhere between nonsense and blasphemy. Mentioning “son of God” to a Muslim violates their belief that Allah is one god. They are also taught that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are suspect—that the New Testament was tainted and the real revelation of God is more perfectly given by Muhammed. Christians are accepted as monotheistic brothers—even venerated, as long as they don’t preach Christ as the Son of God, crucified and resurrected. That means only unserious, syncretic “christians” are acceptable to Islam. Most of “christian” America qualifies.
Because we’re not serious.
We go to church, listen to announcements, three songs, take up an offering, hear a sermon (three points and a poem), shake the pastor’s hand, and head to lunch. That’s not the Gospel nor is it the power of God. It’s a social club. In liturgical churches, we answer by rote, watch the clock, and if we’re one minute over an hour, we note that to take it up with the deacons. In “seeker-friendly” contemporary churches, we are greeted warmly by hip young people, regaled by singers who gyrate to the music like a rock concert, then “get real” as the turtlenecked, stool-sitting pastor tells us God is here to be our friend.
There’s no brokenness. There’s no repentance. There’s no power. There’s no overflow. There’s no love.
We are making noises and collecting money, but we are like ants bringing in stores for the winter, while the farmer readies the plow to overturn all our work. All for naught.
This war is going to get hotter. The eruptions like Paris are going to catch like embers from a fire igniting a forest. It will spread violence and death around the world. The enemy we face is not of this world, and his goal is to steal, to kill and to destroy. If we arm ourselves with bullets and missiles, the enemy wins.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
Instead, American “christians” are carnal, argumentative, exalting every worldly thing against the knowledge of God, allowing every fleshly thought to reign in our minds, and rewarding disobedience because it’s hip, cool, trendy, or pleasurable. We claim the body of Christ and the power of His resurrection, but live as if he’s decayed in the grave.
But there is hope. As the prophet Elijah was discouraged and afraid for his life in 1 Kings chapter 19, God said to him, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Baal was the god of carnality and idolatry in Israel. If there were 7,000 in those ancient days, there are millions today. And not just in America. Around the world, reports of Muslims knowing Christ through dreams and visions are becoming a daily occurrence. Spiritual renewal and revival in blood-soaked places like Liberia and Rwanda in Africa are real.
God’s sovereign plan will be accomplished in the earth. In Isaiah 55:11, God said that His word will not “return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please. and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Many Americans want the benefit of the “prosper” but reject the purpose of the “Word.” There is only one purpose that God’s Word serves: that people repent of their sins, believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and receive His forgiveness.
God loves us with an undying, immeasurable love. He loves Americans, Syrians, French, equally. He loves men, women, gays, straights, transgenders equally. There are none He wishes to leave behind. There are none He condemns.
But as Christians, we must be serious. We must drop to our knees and repent of our carefree and brazen indifference. We cannot reach a single soul for God without that resolve. All the guns, all the bullets, all the violence, all the closed borders, all the technology and security and vigilance and efforts of mankind cannot win this war.
The jihadists are dead serious and will stop at nothing to win their “paradise.” And the real enemy of our souls is equally serious, although defeated, and he will continue to rain death and destruction on a weak, carnal church.
We must get serious.
(crossposted from sgberman.com)