In the culture of fear and chaos where everybody is afraid of ISIS and its affiliate terrorist organizations, I have gone through many emotional and theological responses to some of the recent brutal acts by Islamists and radical Muslims.
Some of these responses were not very Christian, but were simply a reflection of fear and distrust in the power of the Holy Spirit and the promises that God made in the Holy Scriptures. I think that we lose the battle when the fear of men overcomes our obedience to the Lord. God spoke to Paul “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9-10 ESV).
“Do not be afraid.” In Greek grammar, this is a present middle imperative with a negative particle, which usually means to stop an act already in process. So Christ is commanding Paul to stop being afraid. This is similar to Gen. 26:24 when Isaac was afraid, “And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake” (ESV). Or, Deut. 1:29-33, “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go” (ESV). Again, Deut. 20:1 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (ESV).
According to Psychology Today, “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.” The Oxford dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Here is my suggestion for leaving the fear behind and embracing love for Muslims as Christ followers:
- Admit the fears to yourself and to God.
At times, it may be wise to admit the fears to others.
Then turn immediately to the matter of your faith.
Faith is the solution for fear. Do things that build up your faith:
- The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself.
Turn your eyes onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority.
Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
It is Jesus who calls us to love Muslims because He loves them too, and our Muslim friends need to know that we love them because He loves us all.