By Faith McDonnell, Juicy Ecumenism.
I had intended to write a different blog post today. It was to be an open call to Western Christians who have been inspired and blessed by the popular video that is a love letter of Christ’s forgiveness to ISIS. I intended to ask such Christians to demonstrate the same kind of love and concern for ISIS’ victims — particularly the Christians of Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East who have been targeted by the Islamist jihadists for slaughter.
But my intentions to write such a blog post have been altered by some good news. In her daily “Globe Trot” for May 6, my friend Mindy Belz of World magazine revealed that a London-based band Ooberfuse has released a music video focusing on the plight of Iraq’s ancient Christian community that has been displaced, persecuted, and killed by ISIS. In their video entitled “We are One,” the electronica band from Woolwich joins Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil in a show of solidarity for and consciousness-raising about the persecuted Christians and other religious minorities such as Yazidis and Mandeans in Iraq.
“A Letter from the People of Cross to ISIS” has gone viral. It speaks truth, but cynically, I have reflected that perhaps some “People of the Cross” who are not the ones actually carrying that particular Cross (i.e. being slaughtered and chased out of their own homes) can “forgive” ISIS and then believe they have discharged their duty as good Christians where the whole matter is concerned.
Great, I intended to write today to Western Christians, you have shown the way of Christ in loving your enemy. And here I must pause for my treatise on “loving your enemy,” that I have been formulating since I first started doing advocacy for Sudan/South Sudan: Yes, ISIS is an enemy. It is not only okay, but necessary, to identify your enemy as your enemy, or Jesus would not have said “love your enemy.” He didn’t say to pretend that they are not your enemy, or to be in denial about reality when people are sawing off heads, but He did say to love them. It is a far more powerful statement of love and forgiveness to acknowledge the evil, the violence, the intentions to destroy, and say “in spite of that, I forgive you, and through Christ (I sure don’t know any way you could otherwise!) I love you” than to say, “no, they’re not really my enemy.”
Continuing on with my unwritten blog post: Now, what about following another one of Jesus’ commands and sharing in the suffering of your Christian brothers and sisters that ISIS is killing? I would have demanded. We need to express our solidarity and concern for those who are dying for the faith we share together. We need to pray for them, be advocates for them in a political system that is unjust and downright hostile to Christians (more about that in an upcoming post), and do what we can to relieve their suffering through trusted ministries and organizations that are on the ground, providing humanitarian aid.