Religion has always been in the news. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old ISIS supporter opened fire in a gay nightclub and killed 49 people, wounding many more. From the scene of the carnage, Mateen placed a call to 911 declaring his allegiance to the Islamic State. There can be no mistake about the motive behind this act of mass murder. It was not caused by the availability of guns, reaction to “Zionist and Christian Oppression”, or the policies of the United States of America. Although directed at those living a homosexual lifestyle, this act of terror was carried out against Americans. Some call this a “hate crime” because gays were targeted, but isn’t every act of terror a “hate crime”? Let us not be mistaken: every citizen of our country is a target of those who practice terror in the name of their god, regardless of their lifestyle.
This was an act carried out by an adherent of a specific religion. He was not a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or Rastafarian. He was not an Atheist, Agnostic, or Universalist. He was a Muslim. Without question, not every Muslim is a terrorist. I do not claim to have the ability to see into the hearts of all followers of Muhammed, but I can certainly observe the actions of some and understand their motivation. Although widely reported as a “religion of peace”, Islam is not so historically. I do not have space to fully recount the history of Islam, but let me state it is not, and never has been characterized by tolerance. Its’ attitude toward unbelievers (called infidels) and non-conformists is found in Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” All those who believe the Quran and follow Muhammed’s teachings must assent to the authority of this, and many other Quranic statements which demand conversion and obedience, or death.
Yet it is not solely the teachings of Mohammed that drive some to kill in the name of their god: it is the system of religion that undergirds it. Religion is not the creation of God, but the invention of man. Sometimes we hear about the world’s “great” religions, but there is nothing great about it. If the Orlando murderer was religious by God’s standards, he would have been motivated to give life, rather than take it. As James 1:27 tells us “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” This verse describes the life of a great man and prophet who is worth following. His Name-Jesus!
Jesus did not come to establish a great world religion. He came to establish a GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. He changed the focus of humanity from punishing others in the name of god to encouraging others to know Him and His forgiveness. To put it simply, Jesus always emphasized relationship over religion.
Religion is the attempt of man to define God into a box he can understand, and then use it to control others through fear and intimidation. The radical Islamic terrorist is a prisoner of religion, assured that he or she is a tool of Allah for the judgment of sin, and convinced that paradise awaits them for their effort. Sadly, they will discover that God is not a murderer, and has no relationship with murderers, unless they repent and accept the sacrifice of Jesus for THEIR sin.
PRAY FOR OUR NATION
Many of our leaders in Washington do not understand or acknowledge radical Islamic terror. Not a few willingly refuse to accept the truth that the religion of Islam and the teachings of the Quran demand that Muslims carry out violent Jihad and kill those who do not accept their religion. I will reiterate: not every Muslim is a terrorist, yet the Quran clearly instructs the followers of Muhammed to murder unbelievers who will not convert. The failure of our leaders to tighten our borders and control illegal immigration, and to fully investigate mosques that have ties to terror puts Americans at risk. Political correctness and blaming America first only strengthen the hands of the purveyors of terror.
Christians need to pray for our nation and our leaders, that all eyes will see the truth. We must all be conversant in God’s promises of protection, specifically in Psalm 91:5-7 “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster tat strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.” I am confident of God’s deliverance for all who trust in Him, and I know we are victorious in Jesus. The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. (Proverbs 10:24-25 NLT)