Friday, September 10, 2010

Islam, 9-11, and Christian Response

Saturday after Pentecost 15
September 10, 2010

The Lord be with you

Today is the last day of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Moslems. It is known as Eid Al-Fitr. Because Islam uses a lunar-calendar, the exact date changes from year to year. It is a festive day for them. Because it falls so close to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, some might interpret the celebrations as a celebration of that attack. This is a concern for the Islamic community in the USA, especially the peaceful ones.

How should Christians respond? Are we to take up arms? Should we burn copies of the Koran? Should we vandalize mosques? Should we drive the Moslems out? Should we kill those who will not leave?

A few years back there was a popular saying in Christian circles, “What Would Jesus Do?” If we ask that question, the answers to questions like those above become quite obvious.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48, ESV)

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36 ESV)

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV). He did not say: I am the way, the truth, and the death. He did not call his Church to go on military, or para-military, crusades. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). If you want to be like Jesus, then you will not be a dealer in death. This includes hatred. The Apostle John wrote, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15, ESV).

Even if the celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr today are overlaid with tinges of Islamic triumphalism, as Christians we are called by our Lord to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). To take up the sword (either in reality or metaphorically by shouting insults, or whatever) is to let Satan win.

As Christians we have the greatest weapon of all time, the Word of Truth (John 17:17). It is with that Word of truth, the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 1:13) that we contend. If you really care for the Moslems in the world, if you really would do as Jesus would do, then you will support efforts to reach Moslems with that gospel of grace.

If you know a Moslem, and wish to share Christ with them, I would recommend that you learn from Jesus as he encountered a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4:1-45). He listened to her, showed compassion, and gently guided her. So with a Moslem, we should not start out with an attitude of superiority. We should listen. Find opportunities to be compassionate. Find some common ground. When the Holy Spirit provides the opportunity, then share Christ. The relationship should not be one of manipulation, but of friendship. Friends share what is happening in their lives with each other. Friends share what is important to them with each other. Remember, it is never your job to convert anyone. That is the Holy Spirit’s work. The “job” of a Christian is to share the love of Christ.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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