Does Jesus see a big difference between ISIS and the US, really?

I’ve had a few stimulating conversations about death, fear, and anxiety this week. The willingness of the Islamic State (CNN’s ISIS fact list here) to use photos and video of their violent exploits has a lot of Americans worried and stressed out. It’s not difficult to hear the calling for the rise of more violent heroes to alleviate the situation – and their stress.

Perhaps because I have two daughters, I find the stories of the Yazidi women’s stories of their ISIS captivity and escape particularly disturbing. Without a doubt, God grieves, too. I think injustice is an affront to God’s Shalom, brought about in a good creation and restored through the work of Jesus. I do not think the rise of the state has been good. I wonder what Jesus thinks.What must it be like for Jesus to look at ISIS and then look at the United States. Some of my friends think the first thing Jesus would notice would be religious & spiritual differences. I’m not so sure.

Especially when we are threatened or anxious, we as North Americans are given the same archetypical choice of the crowds all those years ago. Like my friend Kirby recently mused about, do we want to release the violent insurrectionary or release Jesus? I think even most of the Christians in the United States forget who they are and at least tacitly accept the release of Notjesus. Others are pretty open about their chant “Give us Barabbas.”

Clint Eastwood & Bradley Cooper tried, among other things, to humanize the American fighter. I like increasing the humanity of the situation. To make a similar film humanizing an IS warrior probably wouldn’t go over so well here- but why not? Are we really so diluted to think the cause of the so-called War on Terror (or the Cold War, Monroe Doctrine, the Transatlantic Slave, or Manifest Destiny) was ever less brutal? More tolerant? More just for people outside the dominant group? If drone pilots put footage of their surgical precision bombings on Youtube would my friends have nightmares about them also?

I think the question for Christians needs to go beyond “What should we do about ISIS?” If one thinks that Christians are synonymous with the United States in our the US is a blessed nation that can devastate & dominate the world and God is pleased because of a high % of Christians – yikes. Ask a Native, a descendent of the enslaved Africans who routinely get harassed by the state, or someone who locked up in Guantanamo Bay without due process – this American project hasn’t been about freedom,  The U.S. is directly and/or indirectly responsible for not only the conditions of ISIS forming (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan with the mujahideen, Bin Landen, Zarqawi,Taliban) but for the current unstable state of the region.

Today a few of my Facebook friends posted this article about how “plank in the eye” it is for U.S. Americans to have strong reactions to the burning ofMoaz al-Kasasbeh (Jordanian fighter pilot) but continue to tell Black folks to “get over it” with lynchings and other horrific unimaginables that continue at home. While it would seem safe to condemn all violence and feel like we did the right thing, we have systemic and spiritual work to do that requires more.

What is the Spirit leading us to do as we live seemingly subjects in a individualized, violence loving, hypocritical society? I hope it doesn’t make our apathy stronger. I hope these words don’t just fuel your Notjesus. I find hope in MLK’s famous speech Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence. Rather than thinking about how to be Good Samaritans on the side of the road we have to address systemic issues to make the Jericho Road safer for travel so they are not at risk of being robbed and beaten. Comparing violent regimes seems like comparing blenders. Different. But basically they blend stuff.

For one thing, you are invited to come tomorrow night to process some of these issues with the Circle of Peacemakers. We’re bringing together four people from the community (Gwen White, Shane Claiborne, Scotty Krueger, and myself) who spent time in Iraq. Let’s humanize it all, not just war heroes. Let’s let the Spirit spiritualize it all, with inspiration and power to embody solutions.


3 thoughts on “Does Jesus see a big difference between ISIS and the US, really?

  1. Joshua,

    My great grandfather and great uncle, both Christians, were beheaded by the Turks in 1916 as my 8 year old grandfather and his 10 year old brother were forced to watch in horror.

    Over 1.5 million Armenians were murdered between 1915 and 1918 in mass burnings, crucifixions and drownings, not to mention any other Hell that could be imagined.
    I guess you’d blame America for that too? Were the Paris murders prompted by Hate towards America? How about the Pakistan school boys murdered months ago?

    Let me tell you something Joshua…..ISIS, Boko Harram, Hezbollah and all the other Muslim fanatic groups have already had a holy war out on you, me and our families before we were ever conceived in our mother’s wombs. Their debauchery is nothing new and it will not stop until the end of the world as we know it.

    If it wasn’t for countries like America, Israel, Jordan ect. along with most peace loving people of all faiths who are trying their best to slow the brutal murdering down, we would have the same Hell taking place on our streets as is taking place in Syria and the likes.

    Syria was once a haven for Armenian refugees during that time. As a child my grandmother and her sisters spent over two years in a Syrian refugee camp safe from the Sadistic animals who killed members of her family before making their way to freedom and eventually America, yeah America, the country some people just love to hate.

    I invite anyone interested to search the internet for the ‘Armenian genocide’ to see where ISIS and the likes got their spirit of evil from.

    • Thanks for sharing your family story and from your heart, Greg. I agree that the Armenian Genocide has gotten and gets way less airtime than it deserves. As the killing continues by people on many sides, my hope is not in one state that could protect or be blameless rather hope in Jesus and being part of the healing.

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