Anyone else weary of the suggestion that all religions are basically the
same and we all basically worship the same God? This sentiment has been quite in vogue in America for many years. As radical Islam continues to rise and dominate headlines, I can only hope that people will begin to see that such warm, fuzzy sentiments are nonsense. I also hope and pray that God may use these troubled times as a means to glorify Himself through working in Christians in such a way where the lifestyle of true believers shows the undeniable difference between Jesus and the Muslim god. Summing up all the differences between Islam and Christianity would take hundreds of blog posts, but let me share just one difference that has been on my mind lately.
Not long ago I was in a brief Facebook exchange with someone who implied that there is no difference between Islam and Christianity because both groups see martyrdom for the faith as something honorable.
What this person did not realize is that martyrdom is actually one of the best examples of the difference between Christians and Muslims.
With Isis, martyrdom=murder. It involves killing and being killed as you
wage war against “infidels.” Yes, there are many Muslims who do not support ISIS and such violence, but the holy book for all Muslims, the Koran, does support these actions. ISIS is simply doing what their book says they should do. In fact, in Islam, the only guarantee a Muslim has of going to heaven is killing and being killed in holy war.
With ISIS, martyrdom=murder. With Christianity martyrdom means being murdered because you follow Christ.
One is focused on violently taking other people’s lives, the other is about suffering violence for the sake of Christ. The theology of ISIS leads them to advance their agenda through wielding the physical sword. The theology of Christ commands us to advance His Kingdom through wielding the sword of the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel. This is a hard concept not just for Muslims, but for the world.
When Jesus came into the world, many of the Jews were initially interested in Him because they were convinced He came as a conquering warrior who would lead a revolt against the Roman Empire and free Israel from Gentile bondage. That’s why so many people were excited when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. That’s also why when it became clear that Jesus had a different plan, many abandoned Him.
Jesus didn’t come to kill His enemies. He came to die for them.
Through His crucifixion, the sinless savior took the sins of the world upon Himself. The holy wrath and anger of God towards sin was poured out on Jesus, as He died as a substitute for sinners. God treated Jesus like Jesus was an ISIS commander. He treated Jesus like He was a liar, a thief, an adulterer, a total rebel against God. In short, He treated Jesus like we deserve to be treated.
Jesus got Hell on the cross.
He gave up His life so that all who trust in Him find that their sins have been paid for by Jesus so that they themselves don’t have to pay for them in Hell forever. It is only through trust in Jesus’ work on the cross that anyone can have any assurance of salvation.
Now Jesus, risen from the dead, turns to His disciples and says go into the world and preach this good news to all. And for 2000 years the world has been filled with the blood of Jesus’ followers. Not blood that has been spilt in violent Jihad, but blood shed by believers who have gone to the most hostile places in the world to spread the good news to the most hostile people. And even when men lose their lives for the sake of the gospel, it is a victory. It testifies to the truth of the gospel, it is proof of the love that Christians have for unbelievers as they die to spread the word to all, and, it demonstrates the supreme value of Christ to the world. If believers are unwilling to suffer violence for the sake of the gospel and for Jesus, it undermines our message that He is the greatest treasure one could have. If instead, we count money, health, goods, and even our lives as inferior to the value of Jesus, that shows the world the truth about Jesus and our message. The word “martyr”, means “witness”, after all. And there is no greater witness then giving up your life for Him.
For every Islamist Jihadist murdering his enemies, there is the witness of Christians all over the world suffering violence for Jesus’ sake, and the more of us they kill, the more glorified God is, because the blood of the martyrs is a constant witness to the supremacy of God, the truth of the gospel, and the love that Christ had for His enemies. A love that took Him even to the cross to save them. If that’s not different enough from Islam, I don’t know what else is.
Grace and Peace,