Submit! And then what?

I am told that the word “Islam” means “submission”.

Christians also believe that we must submit to God.

But I think much depends on who we think we are submitting to.

From what I understand, radical Islamists believe that force is permissible in bringing unbelievers to submit to God. Unfortunately, there are some Christians who also believe that force is acceptable against those who disagree with us – violence against abortionists is an example.

That is not Jesus’ way.

It seems to me that those who use violence to enforce their religious viewpoint believe in a different God than me. That governs the way they approach people outside their faith.

It is true that Jesus spoke of an ultimate judgement for those who reject God. But he chose to sacrifice himself out of love for those who do not know God. He sought them with an outstretched hand of love rather than with the sword.

From my point of view, the god of the Islamic jihadists must be an angry God. My God is a just God but he is also merciful, slow to anger and full of love for weak human beings.

In his life on earth, Jesus did exactly what the Father wanted him to do. When his disciple Peter sliced off the ear of someone arresting Jesus, the Lord healed the man’s ear and rebuked Peter for using his sword (John 18:11).

When the Roman procurator Pilate asked Jesus whether he was a king, Jesus replied: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

He was speaking of a spiritual kingdom – God entering the hearts of men and women.

As a Christian, why must I submit to God? Because if I go on my own, I am lost. God loves me and wants the best for me. And I can only get the full benefits of being in his family if I follow the path he has set out before me.

A lot depends on what kind of God I am submitting to.

If I believe God is an angry and hateful God, that is the way I will treat others.

For me, submitting to God means that the God of love can pour out his love through me.

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