"And of the sons of Issachar, men who
understood the times . . ." (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Is There a Place for Justice?
Without question. The Bible makes it clear that the loss
of innocent life demands a response (Genesis 4:10) and that, in the
case of premeditated murder, that response is lawful capital punishment
after a fair and impartial trial (Exodus 21:12; 14). We are right
to seek the arrest, trial, and punishment of those behind this slaughter.
This is not to say we should act in a spirit of vengeance. It is one
thing to be shocked, grieved, and angered yet still act deliberately
and in accordance with justice. It is quite another thing to engage
in blind hatred and seek to harm anyone or anything that even hints
of guilt by association. We must seek justice, not revenge.
For a moment, let's consider the implications of doing
nothing. We have every reason to believe that the terrorists will
only gain momentum and more innocent people will die. Romans 13 tells
us that God has placed the sword in the hands of governing authorities
for a purpose. That "purpose" is to restrain evil as well as execute
justice. For the sake of protecting still more lives, it is essential-even
godly - that justice be pursued vigorously. The question behind all
this is one of intent. Will the United States pursue these matters
in the spirit of blind vengeance? If so, we will not be acting in
godly fashion. However, to do nothing is also a violation of God's
commandments with regard to responding to loss of life (again, Genesis
4:10 and Exodus 21:12, 14). What we must seek is the path of justice
whereby the guilty are punished, the innocent protected, and God's
[This is yet another entry point for prayer
on the part of the Church. It is the right thing to pray that God
will work through human agencies in order to find and punish the guilty.
But we must also pray that God will protect all of us from bitterness
and unrestrained anger. For indeed, "the wrath of man does not work
the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).]
What Should Be Our Attitude Toward Muslims?
There are Muslims who are celebrating this act of terrorism.
Television images of Palestinians on the streets of the Middle East
rejoicing over the loss of so many innocent lives will undoubtedly
be a picture most Americans will not easily forget. It also seems
– though we do not yet know – that these acts of terrorism
were incubated in the womb of radical Islamic faith and carried out
I am a Christian. I am committed to the Bible as authoritative,
and thus I see fundamental differences between Islam and both Christianity
and Judaism. As Christians, we must always remember that we share
a deep affinity with Jews, which we share with no one else in the
world. Yes, we will preach the Gospel to Jews hoping to bring them
to faith in the Messiah Jesus. Yet, Biblically committed Jews have
this in common with Biblically committed Christians . . . We share
the same basic worldview. Despite our differences over the Messiah,
in a very deep sense of the word, “we are on the same page.”
When it comes to Islam, I do not believe “we’re
all on the same page.” Yes, we share a belief in monotheism,
yet there are striking differences with regard to Biblical worldview
and Islamic worldview. I believe Muslims are captive to a fundamentally
flawed set of beliefs. As a Christian, I actively seek to lead them
to faith in Jesus Christ and thus to worship the God of the Bible.3
Yet, despite my differences when it comes to matters of
faith, I also fear for Muslims who live here in the United States.
Many – probably most – Muslims in America will be sickened
by what they saw. Yet a few days ago, I heard a national radio commentator
make a remark that grieved me deeply. He warned all Muslims in America
“to stay inside if they know what is good for them.” I
also heard a story – I don’t know if it’s true –
that a man dressed in a turban was accosted by a number of people
on an AMTRAK train earlier this week.
I regret to say it – but I believe it to be true
– innocent American Muslims will likely suffer retaliation here
in America. Most Americans will not participate in it, and most Americans
will be grieved that the cycle of hatred continues. Yet, it will probably
happen. If I were a Muslim living in the United States, I would be
As Christians we must be bearers of light in times of
darkness, and as Americans we must remember that this is a free society
and any law-abiding citizen is welcome. We must not pre-judge all
Muslim people. Especially now, we must bend over backwards to extend
kindness and hospitality to Muslims. And, above all, we must reach
out to Muslims with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Toward this end, Kempsville Presbyterian Church (KPC)
intentionally supports the International Student Banquet held at Old
Dominion University. There are always Muslims in attendance. And we
are always there in order to reach out to them, develop friendships,
welcome them into our homes and around our dinner tables, and to bless
them in the Name of Jesus.
3 If you want to
learn more about the Islamic faith and the Christian perspective,
you may want to go to answering-islam.org.uk on the World Wide Web.
What Can I Do?
I think there is little doubt that the greatest human
burden carried at this time is borne by President Bush. Consider what
he is facing. Finding those who did this will not be easy. Bringing
them to justice may be even more difficult. If he is perceived as
less than decisive, he will lose at least some of his ability to govern.
On the other hand, if he overreacts he can alienate moderate nations
who might otherwise support the United States. No matter what he does
he is likely to incur the wrath of radical Muslim nations, which will
stir up still more terrorism . . . not only here but also in the Middle
East. There are countless, dangerous scenarios, and almost any act
will put another set of problems in motion.
President Bush needs our prayers. No wonder the Bible
"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers,
petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings
and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil
and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Timothy 2:1).
We can be grateful we have a President who believes in
right and wrong and who also is a devoted Christian. In God's Providence
we have been given a leader who personally leans on his relationship
with the Lord. Therefore, especially because we have a man who knows
the Lord, we must pray for him and all who advise him. Indeed, we
can be confident God will hear our prayers on his behalf for the Bible
has commanded us to pray in this fashion. We also should pray for
rescue workers, police and firemen, military personnel, government
leaders, and all Christians who are personally involved in this tragedy.
Yet, our response can include more than prayer. From what
I understand, there is a significant need for blood. We also have
developed a partnership with Operation Blessing to bring needed resources
to bear in the lives of those personally affected. Should you choose
to give, you may make your checks payable to KPC and write "Operation
Blessing" in the memo section. We want to put money in the hands of
Christian folk who can help meet the most basic needs of all who are
suffering and to do so intentionally in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
Of course, any actions we take will seem so very small
in the face of the enormity of this crisis. Praying, giving blood,
giving financially . . . all of it will seem like just a drop in the
bucket. Yet, I believe that God has designed it this way. Yes, our
contributions are so very small. Yet, like the boy who placed his
lunch of five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21) in the hands
of Jesus, those who give the little they have find their efforts significantly
multiplied. Our small efforts are not the problem, rather our small
efforts are, in reality, the point. We are small. God is great. And
He multiplies whatever we do in His Name.
Finally, this is also the time to share your faith. I
saw a brief newsclip of a woman who attended a downtown prayer service
on Tuesday night. She said she didn't view herself as a religious
person, but she felt strongly that she needed to attend a church service.
Do you see where I'm going? This event is shaking people up. Many
around us will be looking for answers. Suddenly all of us feel a little
less secure. That's not a bad thing at all, because it can lead us
to depend on God. If you're sensitive to people around you and the
Holy Spirit within you, the opportunities to influence other people
for Jesus Christ will abound.
Presbyterian pastor's page