To my friends who are Muslim–first of all—I love you guys/girls. I do. Even those of you I do not know as well, your kindness and warmth has always meant more to me than I’ve communicated.
The most ironic thing about writing this is that all of you already know that you can’t judge all Christians by the act of one very very non-representative person, even though Christians sometimes judge all Muslims by one or two non-representative persons. I know this isn’t needed because you are reasonable and loving people, but I thought it wise anyways to address Christians too.
I want to look at the topic of Koran burning and offer what Jesus would actually say about it. I hope to show through a few other New Testament Scriptures that followers of Christ’s teachings do NOT do things like this to our neighbors.
In Luke 10, Jesus is asked by an expert in the law about how to inherit eternal life: So Jesus turns the question back to him and asks what the law teaches:
27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]”
28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Everything I read in the Bible points to love. Love of God, love of my neighbor. It’s clear in this passage that I am to love people different from myself. And what is love?
Corinthians 13: 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails.
What we have here–in this event planned to happen Saturday, September 11th, is love failing. And that’s an oxymoron. I am sorry that our American church has moved far away from the command to love our neighbors as ourselves, honor one another above ourselves and with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter says in chapter 3:
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
How clear is this statement to the early church? If you’re still reading, I know that these references were not necessary. You are not ignorant and respect Jesus and His ‘people of the book’ already. You already know that we do NOT believe it is ok to burn holy books of other faiths. You know that most of your Christian friends are disgusted with this action.
But still, I wanted to write and say that I appreciate you for the times when you showed me more about Islam, more about Arabic (some of you!) and never made me feel stupid or out of place because of questions. Many of us were friends DURING this mess in Iraq, had class together while the USA bombed Baghdad, and never judged me or quit being my friend because I was a white evangelical Christian.
I’ve come to the realization that Jesus HImself brings peace in my life, and that He unifies groups that otherwise never could be unified. I will say that just as in Acts 15 (check it out!) the believers decided that no one needed to become Jewish to be Christian..in the same way, today–you do not need to become Christian to love or follow Jesus. If his words stand out as the words of God and he begins to invade thoughts or dreams, do not think that in order to believe in Him, you need to become Christian.
To the Christians who’ve surrendered all to Christ and gave God your sin to remove, your skills to use and the rest of your days to direct——-please know that when he took those things he always gave you instructions to love your neighbor in kindness, respect and gentleness. And he gave you the power to love no matter how it’s received (or not).
Maybe we should learn respect from the Muslims here in Boston who’ve shared Iftar with me during Ramadan. Or from my ‘mwalim-ee’ who, though a Harvard professor and a famous secretary of education from Iraq, teaches me Arabic for free because he has generosity and care for others.
Jesus Himself loved people different from Him and still loves Muslims today very much. I am sorry for the actions being taken by the American church, and I hope these Scriptures helped to show that we serve a God of love, peace and forgiveness.