It’s hard to turn on the television or radio or surf the internet without seeing or hearing about the rioting in many countries. All this violence is supposedly caused by a fourteen-minute, poorly edited movie trailer on YouTube depicting the central figure in Islam in a not-so-flattering light. Murders have been committed, property has been destroyed and fear of more violence is ongoing.
What is the point of all this? In order to defend their faith, they are violating the Fourth and Fifth Commandments (and maybe others)? To show support for their prophet and god they destroy property, riot and murder people who have nothing to do with the film they are so angry about? What is the point? To instill fear. If others see this violent reaction, so the thinking goes, they will be less likely to criticize the religion in the future.
It is exactly the opposite reaction to our enemies that Jesus prescribes: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighborand hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:42-46 NKJV) Why does our Savior tell us to love our enemies rather than kill them? Because God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)
The only fear we should spread is the fear of sin and the eternal punishment that comes from it. The only terror should be in the hearts of all people—dread and sorrow over the terrible things we think and do against the True God. But ending there would also not be what God wants. It is precisely to that terror of conscience that our Savior brings His comforting Words, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) The terror that Christians feel because of our sins is removed through Christ.
What should our reaction be when someone writes a blasphemous book or produces a movie depicting Jesus or the Christian faith in blasphemous ways? Shall we riot and commit murder in the name of our Savior? Of course not! We defend our faith with the Word of God and leave the final judgment to Him. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword… (Hebrews 4:12)
-Rev. Paul Fries