Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested yesterday. Wanted in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey, he has been charged with five counts of attempted murder after a shootout with police.
His family operates First American Fried Chicken in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of the restaurant’s patrons said of Ahmad, “He’s a very friendly guy, he gave me free chicken. He was always the most friendly man you ever met.” The patron was deeply rattled by news that Rahami has been connected to the bombings. “He’s a guy you would never expect,” he said. “This is sad, terrifying, scary.”
When terrorists strike anywhere, people become alarmed everywhere. For instance, West Point was locked down yesterday after a “concerned citizen” reported seeing a man “who fit the description” of Rahami, according to a spokesman. The man was eventually identified as a West Point resident and the lockdown was lifted.
We can expect more of this. FBI Director James Comey has warned that hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the US as attacks escalate against the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Syria. “At some point there’s going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” he warned. Referring to recent attacks in Brussels and Paris, Comey said that future attacks will be “an order of magnitude greater.”
Clearly we must protect ourselves from those who would harm us. ISIS must be destroyed before it destroys our civilization. But there is a spiritual battle inside this military conflict. God redeems all he allows. How is he redeeming the escalation of terrorism in these days?
First, he is using radical Islam to turn Muslims to Christ. As Muslims around the world see the atrocities of ISIS and similar groups, they are drawn from such hatred to the love found in Jesus. More Muslims than ever before are coming to faith in our Lord, many in regions dominated by jihadists.
Second, he is calling Christians to pray for Muslims with greater fervor than ever. We now know that jihadists are an existential threat to our families and nation. We also know that the ultimate answer to this spiritual conflict is the power of the Spirit. So Christians are praying for millions of Muslims in America and around the world to follow Christ.
Third, he is calling Christians to love Muslims at a time when hate crimes against them have soared to their highest levels since 9/11. Satan wants to use radical Islam to make us hate Muslims at the very time when we need to love them. If Americans attack innocent Muslims, we are no better than Muslims who attack innocent Americans. It is time for Christians to be salt and light in a culture desperate for both.
Jesus’ commands were clear: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28–29). We love our enemies to the degree that we serve them, bless them, and pray for them.
Which enemy is Jesus calling you to love today?
Note: My latest book is now available for purchase on our website. The State of Our Nation: 7 Critical Issues offers biblical responses to radical Islam, immigration, religious liberty, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, transgender bathrooms, and abortion. I hope you’ll find it helpful as you seek to engage your culture with God’s love.