Conviction and clarity do not equal courage, but both are necessary ingredients of it. What’s missing is righteousness. After all, evil is undergirded by strong convictions. ISIS murderers have strong convictions. The Boko Haram Islamists butchering civilians in Nigeria and Kenya have strong convictions. The Islamic terrorists who murdered 200 civilian men, women, and upwards of 20 children last week in the public markets of Baghdad, by blowing themselves up (along with scores of others), have strong convictions. So, it’s not conviction alone that equals courage. What’s missing is righteousness.
Moreover, these groups have clarity. They’re clear in their belief that they want non-Islamists to submit. (Islam means submission.) Our headlines are filled with pictures of decapitated men and women who’d not submit to Islam’s demands, of girls raped and mauled by Islamists, of villages blown apart by car bombs and improvised explosive devices planted in public marketplaces by some followers of Islam. So, it’s not clarity alone that equals courage. What’s missing is righteousness.
But we’re living in a climate in the U.S. where our most visible representatives will not act with courage. Few will even speak with courage. What do they do instead? They evade courage by being neither clear nor convictional. They proclaim, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
Remember when (MAJ) Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and wounded 32 others at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009? Guess what our elected representatives termed the event? “Workplace violence.” Does that accurately reflect what happened or Hasan’s Islamic worldview? Workplace violence. Really? Are you awake yet? Yet Hasan had strong convictions. And he was crystal clear. What’s missing is righteousness.
Remember last month? On June 13, 2016 another Islamist murdered 49 civilians at a nightclub filled mostly with homosexuals. And another 53 people were maimed or injured. Are you awake yet? Was the murderer clear in his thinking, and did he have plenty of conviction? So, clarity of thought and conviction of mind are insufficient in this time that calls for courage. We need those things, yes, but we need righteousness, too.
Remember December of 2015, just 6 and a half months ago, a husband and wife murdered 14 civilians at a Christmas party? They had clarity and conviction of their Islamic faith. But what did we hear? Crafted vanilla speech read by politicians…the words typed for them on a teleprompter. Where was the courage to call a spade a spade? Are we awake yet? What will it take? We, too, need clarity of thought. And we, too, need conviction. But at least as important is our desperate need of righteousness.
How does one attain that? Is it endemic to people? Do your headlines indicate that people are basically good? I hear it all the time–that people are “basically good.” According to Scripture, there is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).
But does the Christian worldview leave us there? That is, does the Christian worldview only indict the human race as godless and then abandon us? No. The Christian worldview demands righteousness, but then offers us what the Islamic worldview, or any other worldview, does not—righteousness through Christ (Romans 3:21-26).
We need clarity of thought. We need conviction to act. As a friend of mine says, we’re in desperate need of being both definitional and convictional in our thinking. Why? Because we’re amidst a mushy and sentimental age that values sentimentality and artifice. This is the age of selfies and Facebook. Millions of people may “tweet” but very few think deeply.
In the Islamic worldview, they’re not lacking conviction. I suggest that many are not even lacking clarity. But what Islam, or any other worldview, cannot offer is righteousness from God. That, according to the Bible, comes one way—by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Islamic worldview seeks to conquer through forced submission, and our headlines continue to record a bloody history. Are we really awake yet in this generation? What will it take? Not just conviction, not just clarity, but righteousness alongside those things. And that righteousness will not come by militarism, but by God’s work through Christ.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). We sinners will not stop slaying one another until we see that God incarnate was slain for us.
When the heart is circumcised by God the Holy Spirit, righteousness is imputed—“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).