General John Kelly of the US Southern Command has reported that about 150 persons left the Caribbean region in 2015 to fight with Islamic State – the Islamic army that is killing Christians wherever they find them. He warned that Islamic terrorists may now choose to carry out terror activities in their home countries.
The mass-beheading videos by Islamic State appear to show Christians unresistingly kneeling before their executioners. Tragically, Christians were taught to submit to this barbarism by their religious leaders. Even after the televised mass-beheadings, Christians continued to be taught to submit to their oppressors while maintaining their faith until the end. Before a similar persecution is upon us, our religious leaders need to honestly discuss an effective Biblical Barbadian response.
Jesus’ Response to an Individual Oppressor
Jesus provided two responses to violence. The first was directed to individuals during their normal interaction with other individuals. Jesus advised His followers to essentially turn the other cheek and not resist such individuals. Paul advised Christians not to retaliate against oppressors since vengeance belongs to the Lord. The Bible teaches that God hears the cries of the oppressed, and that certain terrible judgement awaits the oppressors.
Those who organise the mass killing of Christians depend on the willingness of Christian religious leaders to convince their adherents not to resist the impending slaughter. Such religious leaders conveniently ignore Jesus’ second response to violence as they unwittingly cooperate with the oppressors.
Jesus’ Response to Terrorism
Jesus’ second response was directed to communities vulnerable to terrorism. A few hours before Jesus’ arrest, He instructed His disciples to sell some of their possessions and arm themselves with the latest weapon of war – the sword. The disciples obtained two swords and Jesus said “it is enough” (Luke 22:38), indicating that the armed should protect the unarmed.
And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.”
Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38)
There is no contradiction with Jesus’ responses. While Jesus ministered, He was the lighting rod that attracted criticism and death threats. He preached openly, chased merchants from the temple, and defended His disciples from criticism. However, shortly before He was arrested, and would not be present to protect His disciples, He instructed His disciples to defend themselves (Luke 22:36).
While Jesus was being arrested, His disciples asked whether the time had come for them to attack with the sword. Jesus replied “Permit even this” (Luke 22:51), signifying that the swords were last-resort defensive weapons.
The murder, rape and enslavement of millions of Christians around the world over the past 2,000 years has been facilitated by religious leaders teaching pacifism. Jesus hated religious traditions that violated God’s commandments, and He publically insulted religious leaders who misled gullible adherents. Hear Jesus’ public response to such religious leaders: “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33)
It is better if each person conscientiously arrived at their own response to potential terrorists now, rather than being forced to react immediately during such a foreseen event. While I respect pacifists who have honestly considered all sides of this issue before reaching their conclusion, let it be known that if I am overwhelmed by terrorists, I intend to go down fighting.