What will the New Year bring?

Allow me to briefly pause to say Happy 2011 to all our readers.  May this new year be better than the last and might we all this coming year know, and heed, that which God deems fulfilling and productive.

2010 was a rough 12 months for many and we don’t need to list the litany of reasons why it was so.  Many are intimately familiar with those reasons.

The new year has begun much like the old sadly:

President Hosni Mubarak urged Egypt’s Christians and Muslims to unite and confront “terrorism” after a New Year’s day car bomb killed 21 people at a Coptic church in Alexandria, in the latest blow to the Middle East’s largest Christian community.

There was no immediate claim, but Al-Qaeda has threatened Christians everywhere, and called for punishment of Egypt’s Copts, over claims that two priests’ wives they say had converted to Islam were being held by the church against their will.

The health ministry’s Abderrahman Shahine said 21 people were killed and 43 wounded.

The car, which was parked outside the Al-Qiddissine (The Saints) church in the Sidi Bechr district of the Mediterranean port city, exploded at around half past midnight (2230 GMT Friday) as worshippers were leaving after a service.

A witness told private television channel On-TV he had seen a green Skoda pull up outside the church shortly after midnight. Two men got out and the explosion occurred almost immediately afterwards.

The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, which said its purpose was to force the release of the two women in Egypt.

“All Christian centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them,” the group said.

“Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing,” the ISI said.

It also demanded that the Christians “show to the mujahedeen their seriousness to pressure this belligerent church to release the captive women from the prisons of their monasteries.”

The BBC has posted relevant pictures to include some of Christians in the streets protesting the bombing and riot police being deployed to separate them from a nearby mosque where apparently some Christians took to throwing stones, clearly not satisfied with merely turning the other cheek.  Which brings us to a relevant question and the real reason for this post.

How should Christians react to radical Islam?  Or as one leftist preacher has snidely put it to me, ‘Since Brother Rick is so afraid of Muslims, my question is: “Rick what is your answer to the Muslim ‘problem’?”‘

I’ve thought hard about that for some time and believe the answer has multiple layers.

First, I think the West needs to quit playing politically correct games and seeing radical Islam as the threat that it is… this would include more vigorously confronting the so called moderate elements within this allegedly great relligion to do their own confronting with their radical brethren.  My problem however with this is that I’m of the belief that these moderates are simply cultural Muslims who aren’t quite as… committed and passionate… to their beliefs as the jihadists… which makes this confrontation less likely to take place… but which leads to my next thought which can’t really be expressed delicately.

Christians need to better fulfill the great commission.  All Christians.  To include those who haven’t historically taken up this mission with any zeal and yes, here I include the denomination to which I find myself moving toward.  Of course, this mission too is dependent upon the committed and the passionate within the faith and frankly, there are too many within Christianity who are as marginal in their faith as those earlier referenced moderate Muslims and I’ll quickly acknowledge that too often, I count myself amongst them.

I am, as many readers know, quick to react angrily to those stories recounting yet another Islamist attack.  I’m quick to want to see these murderous thugs be brought to justice.  I’m so quick to want to pick up the sword and smite the offender.  And I’m as quick, and perhaps with sound reason, to look to Just War theology as the basis for these reactions.  It’s a constant inward struggle that comes largely from my belief in the veracity of the following scripture:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The bottom line is simple to state but far more complex to practice and effectively put in place.  Evil must be confronted.  To confront evil, it must first be identified and branded as such.  And as a Christian, I must not confront evil with evil.  And there is where the rubber meets the road, there is where the struggle becomes real, there is where, if I can add a bottom line to the bottom line, I need help.

And so I commit this year to be constantly seeking that help.  Sadly, because I know myself, I’ll need help in adhering to that commitment but I know from whence that help originates. 

May this post be a constant reminder to me, and perhaps you, to whom it is I should go.

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