I am fired up. I haven’t been this fired up about anything really important in a long time. While in some ways to have my passions stirred is a good time. I haven’t hidden the fact that I’ve been terribly depressed for a long time. But on several levels I am not sure I like being stirred up.
First I wish this issue would go away. I wish Dr. Jones and now this Pastor in Springfield TN would just come to their senses, repent and not burn anything this weekend. Second, I fear that I will be misunderstood, lose friends which are valuable to me and maybe even vilified. As I said yesterday, I am much more the Kumbaya, get along type person.
I feel a real sense of grief in my spirit. After I wrote my blog yesterday, I saw the post from a Pastor in Pakistan. I could feel the pain in his words. He was begging for us, his brothers and sisters in the west to do what we could to stop the burning of Qur’ans. He posted a picture of a burned house in Pakistan. I know religious militants are not right and need to be stopped, etc. But you know what? They exist. Christianity has produced quite a few of them as well. Look no further than Dr. Jones.
It is easy for us, sitting in freedom to say things like well, they don’t have churches in Saudi Arabia. That’s right they don’t. Thank God we live in America where we have the freedom to build churches, or temples, or synagogues or even mosques. We don’t want to be Saudia Arabia. We love to talk about the godly heritage of our country, our “Christian” roots. It is because of those foundations that we have freedom of religion.
When we hate, when we respond with hatred, are we any different? Someone said they wanted fairness. They said they wanted the President and others to react just as strongly when Bibles are burned as they are to this Qur’an burning. I think it is to our credit that we don’t react. Not that I want to see a Bible burned. That’s a terrible thing as well. But we understand that when someone does that, our response should be to pray for them. It should be separate their actions and see it as their problem. The reason we can do that is we know freedom. Not only the freedom of knowing Christ but also because we live in a country of freedom.
I saw a clip of a pastor and an imam from Memphis who are respecting each other. The pastor said that he is told in his Bible to love his neighbor. These Muslims are now his neighbor. So he is doing what the scripture says. Is that in your Bible too? It is in mine.
These two reminded me of the powerful video I saw a few years ago, The Imam and the Pastor. You can see a clip on youtube of part of it here. Two Nigerians, one a Pentecostal preacher, the other a Muslim Imam work for peace. Seems that would be a very godly thing to do, at least to me it does?
I don't think this fire is going to go away. I wish it would. I wish I didn't feel compelled to speak up, but I do. I can't ignore it.
Listen to the words of Jesus:
Matthew 5:38 "Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' 39 Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. 40 If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. 41 And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. 42 No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.43 "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' 44 I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
We really don’t need Patraeus or the President to be telling us that this Qur’an burning is wrong. Our Master and Savior told us this a long time ago. I am a Christ-follower. I want to behave like one. I also want our brothers and sisters around the world to be safe. I also believe in the scripture that says we are all one body and when one hurts, we all hurt.
1 Corinthians 12:25 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, 26 the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 27 You are Christ's body - that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything.