by Rick Love
Peace Catalyst International grieves with the people of Lebanon and France over these despicable terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris. May the God of mercy and all comfort be with all those impacted by these horrendous events.
These back-to-back terrorist attacks remind us that ISIS and other terrorist groups are not just attacking Westerners but also Muslims. Thus, we stand with people of all faiths and people of no faith in denouncing this evil, just like our Muslim friends and Muslim leaders around the world have done (see here, here, and here).
We urge followers of Jesus everywhere to love God with their mind in order to resist simplistic sound bites about Islam. Islam is radically diverse. The vast majority of Muslims are not our enemies. The tiny fraction of Muslim extremists like ISIS are (see my Jesus and ISIS blog post).
These terrorists consider themselves Muslims and embrace one very narrow and extreme interpretation of Islam. However, the majority of Muslims around the world reject this bloody, violent interpretation of their faith.
We call on followers of Jesus everywhere to resist any type of hateful backlash against Muslims in the aftermath of these attacks. Instead, may the love of Christ control us. Will you join us in obeying Jesus’ command to love our Muslim neighbors? (See our website for many practical ways you can build bridges of love with Muslims.)
If we fail to love and instead fan the flames of hatred toward Muslims, we actually play into the hands of groups like ISIS. They know that when hatred and discrimination increase, so too does the anger and frustration of Muslim youth in the West – and their recruiting campaign soars.
While it is sometimes necessary for governments to use force to confront extremists, force alone will never lead to peace. Behind the bombs and bullets of the extremist is a twisted and dangerous ideology that needs to be confronted. The efforts of governments need to be supplemented by the moral leadership of Muslims and Christians who will expose the darkness of these ideas and model a better way.
We need to develop and work for long-term solutions. Partnering for peace with mainstream Muslims is one of the most important things we can do to undermine and thwart violent extremism. We need to amplify their voices and support their efforts.
We believe that the real conflict is not primarily between Muslims or between Muslims and the West but between all types of violent extremists and those who long for a just, inclusive, and peaceful world.