In my sermon today, I said that I if Jesus really meant that stuff about loving our enemies and praying for the people who persecute us, war is not the appropriate Christian response to ISIL.  What, then, shall we do?

Here are a few concrete suggestions for those of us who are Christians in the USA, and then some thoughts about what our government can do.

We can pray for peace.  If we really believe in the power of prayer, if we believe that prayer changes things, we can pray for it.  We can pray for it in our own lives.  We can pray for it in our communities.  We can pray for it in the world.

Get together to pray for peace.  Sometimes it is nice to get together to pray for peace.  Arrange a prayer vigil.  Invite your friends.  Figure out how to make the vigil an interfaith event.

We can love our enemies.  This isn’t easy for me (and probably not for you, either).  One way to do this is to pause at the end of the day and review the day.  You can ask yourself not only what reasons you have to give thanks, but also when were you angry.  Looking at when you were angry, do that anger turn someone into an “enemy”?  If so, what can you do to help change your heart from antagonism and anger to love and peace?  The more practice we have turning to love and peace, the easer it will become.  Eventually, it should become second nature.

We can support the refugees.  You can go to the Niles Discovery Church’s donation page and pick the OGHS/Week of Compassion special offering and make a donation.  OGHS (One Great Hour of Sharing) and Week of Compassion are the companion special offerings of our denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), respectively.  Here is a story about the needs; the staff of both offerings stand ready to respond.

We can call upon our government to take these actions.

Things the United States can do

  • Call upon the United Nations Security Council to take immediate protective actions for the vulnerable people in Iraq.
  • Accept Iraqi refugees into our country.
  • Build international pressure on ISIL to end their atrocities.
  • Provide support for schools, hospitals and clinics, nourishment, and clean water.  This is the Romans 12:20-21 defense: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
  • If we were to get really daring, we could create a peace force of vast numbers of people trained in nonviolence to move in and stand between aggressors and victims.  Many of these Peace Force members would likely be killed, at least at first, but none of them would be asked to kill.