February 6, 2007

What Can We Learn From Radical Islam?

I'm sure when you saw the title for this posting you had some reaction. It almost has to spark your curiosity. A lot of people want to dismiss this movement within Islam as a very small sub-group within one of the world's biggest religions, but it seems to me that that idea is born out of ignorance & a desire to avoid the confrontation that will come.

If you saw the Fox News special this weekend on radical Islam, you had to have been affected by it. I know that many media outlets in the Middle East overtly support Bin Laden & other terror leaders, but to see some of the actual things they show on TV to even their youngest children was chilling. While our kids are watching Dora the Explorer or The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, Muslim children are watching cartoons & other programming that glorifies suicide bombers & actively encourages children to make martyrdom their life's objective. Consequently, Muslim leaders claim that there is a tremendous influx of youth into this radical, suicidal arm of Islam. They feel that this martyrdom movement is their greatest weapon against the "infidels" & "Zionists".

As a Christian & as a pastor to teenagers here in America I couldn't help but wonder what we could learn from these people who are so desperate to "defend their faith" that they'll strap on a belt of TNT. In their world becoming a suicide bomber is one of the highest if not the highest calling, but in our culture most believers schedule God into their busy social lives. When they have time & nothing that they would rather be doing, then they will be involved in the life of their local church. The sad thing about that is that being in church doesn't necessarily mean that the believer has encountered God. Their heart could be in a totally different place, but they're in church in order to fulfill what they perceive as their obligation to God.

Of course I'm not advocating the brainwashing of our children & youth to become suicidal maniacs, but why not encourage our people to become the radical kind of disciple that Jesus clearly wants. Jesus never called any of His disciples to a life of convenience & comfort. In fact, life got worse for some of His followers. When Saul became Paul, his life took a turn toward persecution & near death experiences. Once he was an elite religious figure. He had position & status, but when he encountered Christ, he was changed. His radical faith led him to do amazing things across Asia Minor & Europe. If believers today would take their faith & their relationship with Jesus as serious as Muslims, the Kingdom of God would be advancing at an unprecedented pace. Islam would no longer be the world's fastest growing faith. The Gospel would touch the hearts of millions & they would turn from a faith that "loves death more than we love life" & to a Savior who wants to give us abundant life here on this earth & even more on the other side of eternity.

The lesson we can learn from the so-called radicals of Islam is that their passion is raging. However, the fire has all but gone out for many Christians in the U.S. Only when we fan the flames of faith in Christ & follow Him boldly & radically will we see the advance of His kingdom.


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