Despite the immense devastation that Isis-inspired terrorists have caused, they do not have ultimate power. There is one thing they cannot destroy—the invisible and eternal part of us called our spirit. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of people who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more to hurt you” (Luke 12: 4NCV). If we call ourselves Christians, then we must take these words seriously? What would it look like for us to not be afraid of Isis? Would doing nothing to protect ourselves mean?
Jesus did not say, “Don’t protect yourself; he said, “Don’t be afraid.” I don’t think that means we will have no feelings of fear but that we will not make decisions based on those feelings. In order to do this, we need to continually bring all our fears to Jesus—not pretend to be brave when we feel scared. (Writing down my fears helps me recognize them and be honest about them.) When Jesus’ peace rules our hearts, we can think rationally and base our decisions on the wisdom of his word (Scripture). It would be foolish to close down our security systems and disregard intelligence reports of possible threats. But some of us want to go further; we are so paranoid that we want to close our country’s borders to refugees who are fleeing for their lives.
If fear of Isis causes us to close our country’s borders and our hearts to refugees who are fleeing for their lives, what will happen to our spirits? Jesus called us to radically love, not radically fear. During my time of Scripture reading this morning, I was reminded me of what radical love looks life. The Apostle Paul declared that even in the face of execution he would rejoice, because he was “pouring out” his life in faithful service to Christ, bringing hope to others. (Phil. 2:17-18)
Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian who lived during World War II, did not fear those who could kill her body; she put the words of Jesus into practice and followed Paul’s example. Because of the protective measures that she and her family took to save the lives of Jewish refugees during the holocaust, the Nazi’s arrested the entire family; most of them died with the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps. Due to some clerical “mistake,” Corrie was released the day before all remaining women at Ravensbrȕck were exterminated.
She spent the rest of her life traveling around the world to tell others of the love of God. I never met her but once heard a tape recording of her voice. I will never forget it. Her spirit was so connected to God that when I heard her speak, I felt enveloped in an ocean wave of love. Even now, the memory brings tears to my eyes. I want that kind of a spirit. I covet it. Don’t you?
We can only obtain such a love-filled spirit by staying connected to Jesus Christ, believing, and receiving his love. These choices will free us from fear (1 John 4:18) and give us courage to open our hearts and (with wisdom) provide protective boundaries to refugees fleeing Isis. The alternative choice—living in terror—will cause us to become their victims, even if they never reach our borders.
In the words of Martin Luther,
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.[i]
[i] “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” Hymns II (InterVarsity Press Downers Grove, IL 60515) 1976 p.11