By Michael E. Brooks
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21 NKJV).
Brenda and I are presently in Bangladesh with a certain amount of concern regarding the preacher in Florida who has announced plans to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, September 11.
By the time you read this article we will know whether he followed through with those plans, and likely will have some indication as to what sort of reaction will follow, world-wide, if he did.
I have some sympathies with the announced purpose of such an act; that is to “take a stand” for Christianity and resist the militancy of radical Islam as expressed through terrorism and violence. However there are better ways to take a stand on behalf of Christianity than to deliberately insult, provoke and offend by burning a book held to be holy by others.
We are working to counter terrorism and other evils by preaching the gospel of peace, lovingly, humbly, and compassionately. The answer to violence and hatred is never more of the same. Rather the Holy Spirit teaches us in the text quoted above, to overcome evil with good.
The answer to violence is not guns and bombs, nor is it to provoke and enrage by insulting acts. The answer God gave to human rebellion and wickedness was to send His Son to die on a cross, and thereby to redeem sinners from their guilt.
Every time a Christian sends Bibles, or feeds the hungry, or repairs damage from a storm, he or she is “overcoming evil with good.” Such acts do far more to defeat terrorism than a violent response, or an insulting protest.
Responding to hatred with more hatred, or with anger only, is false reasoning, and is terribly counter-productive. It is far more effective, and far more Godly, to respond with the love of Christ, who said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
This does not pardon the violent ones who harm others without consequence. God claims the right to take vengeance and promises to do so (Romans 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Our role, however, is to “do good to those who hate [us], and pray for those who spitefully use [us] and persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44). There is no greater good which we can do than to continue to preach the Gospel of Christ.
By Michael E. Brooks