Winning the War on the Terror of Sin

Do you understand what is going on with Al Qaeda? Do you know who they are and what they are actually trying to accomplish? If not, then do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the work of Lawrence Wright who has done an excellent job of laying out the details in an accessible fashion. The best place to start is the transcript of a fascinating interview of Wright by Hugh Hewitt. (HT: Between Two Worlds)

I spent some time over the weekend reading this transcript and was really struck by something Wright said at the conclusion of the interview. Hewitt basically asks him, if you had two minutes with the president, what would you suggest for us to do in order to win the war on terror against Al Qaeda? Here’s his response:

First, fix the intelligence by hiring people who actually speak Arabic natively, and Pashto, and Urdu, the languages you actually have to, the cultures you have to work against. We’re not going to understand…it’ll always be a failure of imagination if you have people that simply aren’t from those cultures fighting it.

In essence, Wright is suggesting that you you have to be like them if you want to defeat them. It’s not enough to just learn the language and the culture from the outside. Instead, you must be willing to allow those who are from among them to be the ones who defeat them. Put simply, victory is an inside job.

As I was thinking about this article, I couldn’t help but reflect on the parallels between how Wright believes we should win the war on terror and how God has won the war on sin. Listen to Hebrews 2:17-18:

17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus didn’t just learn our language and embrace our culture. Hebrews 2 tells us that He went beyond that to become like us ‘in every respect’. Why? This likeness allowed Him to become a faithful high priest who could help us in our sufferings through His propitiation for our sins.

It is important to note that the passage says that Christ ‘had’ to be made like us in every respect. It wasn’t a choice. It wasn’t an option. It was the only way. Therefore, the incarnation of Christ is not just some marginalized doctrine of relative unimportance. No, it was the only means through which God could reconcile a lost world to Himself.

Have you reflected on the significance of the incarnation lately? That Jesus emptied Himself, took on the likeness of men, and humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-9). The fact that God demonstrates His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) can only be true if there is an incarnation. Without the incarnation, there can be no crucifixion and resurrection. There can be no redemption and restoration.

Lawrence Wright is on to something that echoes far beyond effective strategies in the war on terror. It’s something that God eternally foreknew in Christ…winning the war on the terror of sin is an inside job.

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