Conversion at the Point of a Sword
by Alan Allegra 9/25/2007 / World Affairs
Militant religion has been getting a lot of bad press recently, and rightly so. The world has been plagued with religious wars for centuries, and will continue to be until the end of the world. Not only do adherents of one religion fight followers of another religion, but they often fight each other. We see this today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most major religions have been guilty of this at one time or another: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Christians. History tells us that much of the time, the "holy wars" have really been fought over territory, not religious beliefs. To drill a little deeper, most religious wars have been fought to conquer nations, not souls.
Christians believe that the greatest war we can be engaged in is the war for men's souls. As do many other religious zealots, we believe that men are to be converted at the point of a sword. Now that I have your attention, let me explain what I mean.
The soul is the spiritual part of man; it is the ever living essence of man that gives him life. Therefore, the Christian sword is a different kind of swordit is a spiritual sword. The Bible calls this "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). God is not interested in false conversions at the point of a physical sword; He prefers the allegiance of a sincerely yielded heart.
Man in his natural state is an enemy of God. Romans 3:10 states, "As it is written, there is no on righteous, not even one." This shouldn't be hard to verify, since every baby has to be taught obedience, not disobedience! This state of unrighteousness antagonizes a holy God and makes us his enemies and, therefore, objects of His wrath (Ephesians 2:4). Were God like men, He would certainly destroy his enemies in the name of His "religion." However, God is a God of love and lifeHe takes no delight in the death of people. Therefore, He has made a way to vent His righteous anger and yet reconcile His enemies.
President Lincoln was once criticized for his attitude toward his enemies. "Why do you try to make friends of them?" asked an associate. "You should try to destroy them." "Am I not destroying my enemies," Lincoln gently replied, "when I make them my friends?" This is the attitude God has toward His enemiesHe would rather reconcile with them and make them His friends in Christ.
Elsewhere in the Bible, God describes the true Christian weapon thus: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account" (Hebrews 4:12, 13). The Bible literally gets to the heart of the matter and works to convert the soul. It exposes the disease of the soul so the Great Physician can heal it.
Jesus called on his followers to turn the other cheek when offended (Matthew 5:39). His followers are not to retaliate against violence, but to leave vengeance to God (Romans 12:19). God can take care of Himself; He doesn't need his children's help. Christians are called to conquer men through selfless love and service.
And yet, God makes friends through murder. His righteous anger requires the death of the wicked. But His love yearns after their life. In His infinite wisdom, He reconciled the two by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for man's sins. Thus His judgment was satisfied while sparing the lives of those who accept Christ's sacrifice on their behalf. When a person turns to Christ in faith, his sins are forgiven and he becomes a child and friend of God. This is true conversion at the point of the swordthe sword of the Spirit.
There is, indeed, a holy war raging in the world. But it is the war between God and men, truth versus lies, good versus evil, God versus man. And God has taken the initiative and all the steps necessary to stop the warnot by destroying His enemies, but by patiently seeking to make them His friends. The only bloodshed He desires has already been shed on the cross to reconcile man to God.