Shots rang out through the streets of Linden, NJ late Monday morning as 28 year old Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey.
While details are still coming out about his many trips to Afghanistan, his marriage to an Afghan refugee, and his nearly year long trip to Quetta, Pakistan it would be premature to start making specific remarks as to the reason for his actions.
What we do know for certain though is that feelings of anxiety have stirred in the hearts of many Americans, and too many are burdened with a sense of hopelessness.
Where does the desire to do acts of terrorism come from?
Donald Trump began pushing for racial profiling as a means to prevent further attacks, but we know that the desire to do evil doesn’t stem from one’s nationality; every race has thrown its fair share of bombs.
So, in broader terms, why did Ahmad Khan Rahami do what he did then? Or, why did Oram Mateen, back in June of 2016, storm the Pulse Night Club and take the life of 49 souls?
The simplest answer is their worldview not only allows for it, but encourages it.
What you believe about the world, what you believe about the universe, about God, about the nature of reality, will, at the bottom, be a foundation for all of your actions.
So, what would happen if you lived in a world that didn’t have grace? If there was no possibility for forgiveness, and there was only one possibility to escape the scales of justice at the end of time.
Muslims live inside of a world view where they have no assurance of their salvation. They believe they will be weighed on a scale at the judgement, 49% bad and 51% good means everlasting glory and all the trimmings, but reverse those digits and you’re in trouble … Muslims even pray as part of their daily prayers that Muhammed would be raised to glory. If they can’t even have assurance that their great prophet Muhammed is getting in, then how can the average Muslim have any hope of eternity in glory?
For an individual like Omar Martin, who struggled under the burden of same-sex attraction, nothing was more clear to him than the enormous weight of responsibility that was caving in around him; missteps and mistakes that would drag him away from the glory he so desired.
In Islam there is only one way to assure salvation; a “get out of jail free card” that allows you to skip being weighed in the judgment and jump right to everlasting paradise. It’s because this belief permeates their world view that the overwhelming number of terrorist attacks are carried out by Muslims.
How does the world seek to solve the problem?
Back in August of 2015 Hilary Clinton was approached by a very articulate and respectful leader of the Black Lives Matter Movement. He pressed her to share what she planned to do to change the hearts and minds of white people. She quickly shot back,
“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts, I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You are not going to change every heart, you’re not!”
The way the world wants to fix this is to move money around; to put another broken system, like social security, in place to alleviate pressure and stick a bandaid on it. But, at the heart of it … this is a heart problem. That’s why more profiling, more bombing foreign countries, more water boarding, or more indoctrination and secularization of children will never fix it. It will just move the problem around.
What hope do we as Christians have?
As Christians we have confidence, we have hope, we have a sure and steady anchor for our souls. The Psalmist gave an answer to our problem when he said, “If you, oh LORD, should mark iniquities, oh LORD, who could stand? But, with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” In our hearts, deep down, we can have true sympathy for our Islamic brothers and sisters … If we were placed on the same scales we would come up short too.
But with the LORD there is forgiveness.
A friend of mine who has served as a missionary in Southeast Asia, in predominately Muslim countries, attests to the fact that if you can get to the hope of the gospel, and past all the lies that Muslims have been told about the Christian faith, their old world view will crumble and they will cling to the assurance that can only be found in Christ. “You mean I don’t have to blow myself up to be sure I’m getting in?” A simple scripture like, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” can change a hardened fundamentalist’s heart and mind forever.
My friend was able to share the gospel, with affect, in areas of the world where it can be incredibly dangerous to do so. What’s our excuse? We live in the safest place in the world to evangelize Muslims. Here in America they are in large part ignored or avoided.
What should we as Christians be prepared to do?
First, we should understand that Muslims are real people with hopes, dreams, fears, and worries just like the rest of us.
When they are pushed, and under tremendous weight, the pressures from this life, they turn to their cherished beliefs for help and support, they stand on their world view. It’s because they don’t know the truth about Jesus and the supreme comfort of knowing that they could belong, both body and soul, to Jesus -no matter what- and that nothing would ever separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, that they do such horrible things. We don’t ever need to be afraid of Muslims again, they are most to be pitied in the world, because they live without any hope.
The answer, as Christians, should never be hatred, anxiety, or hopelessness in the face of terrorism. Our knee jerk reaction can’t be reciprocation and revenge. Take Paul’s advice to heart, and know that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic forces of evil in the heavenly place.” Share the gospel with your neighbor, plant leaven in Islam and watch it work its way through the whole dough.
The gospel will work to change hearts and minds and rescue souls from hell.