Red letter discourse

Most of you have undoubtedly heard of the Koran burning scheduled by the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida for Saturday, 9/11, under the direction of its pastor, Rev. Terry Jones. There is a lot of concern over this causing a violent backlash from the more militant sects of Islam, as well as a huge setback in attempts to establish some sort of civil dialogue with non-militant aspects of Islam as well.

I’ve wanted to address this somehow, but the issues are so volatile and my knowledge of comparative religion is limited. But then I thought of the words of Jesus, and realized that everything I would want to say about this has already been said. What I’m most concerned about is how Christians are behaving themselves in the eyes of the world.

So here to challenge us all are the words of Jesus. In almost every case, they point to a different reaction than the one most readily available through our human emotions. They force us to draw on something higher — something that comes from the Spirit of God.

Most Bibles have a Red Letter Edition where all the words of Jesus appear in red so they can be easily identified. I am following that tradition here.

As to standing up to your aggressors:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)

As to evil people getting what they deserve:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)

As for inciting violence:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9)

As for enduring false accusation:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:10-12)

As for payback for 9/11:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, ‘Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.'” (Matt. 5:38-41)

As for hating Muslims:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?'” (Matt. 5:43-47)

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36 Responses to Red letter discourse

  1. Mary Strawsma says:

    John: Since the election I have been disturbed by the mean spirited and accusatory tone of much of my email from many people I consider to be good friends and fellow Christians. It seems to me we are becoming more and more polarized all in the name of Jesus. It must sadden God as he looks at us who are to be the example for Him. Your article here addresses this well.

  2. Julio Jaramillo says:

    I think these are the most forgotten and rationalized words in the history of mankind, somehow everybody seems to have a theological excuse for avoiding them, and actually preaching the opposite

  3. Danny Losekamp says:

    I like it… while being opposed to this demonstration, I didn’t quite know how to put it into words other than thinking that it will accomplish little if any good. The Word of God is so simple and yet so profound; you really can find answers there for everything if you simply take the time to look. There is more than enough hatred in the world; we need more of God’s love.

  4. Kellie says:

    The best points always come from the Word, don’t they. We have to remember the Bible has been misused throughout history also, twisted into a negative weapon instead of a weapon of peace. If we expect people to not burn our holy book, we certainly should give the same respect to those people who don’t agree with the twisted use of the Koran. There is a big difference in “burning a book or record or item” that causes you personal sin to “rid it” from your life ceremoniously. But this is totally different from that.

  5. Michael Henderson says:

    Another good one, John

  6. Toni Sample says:

    I saw Rev. Terry Jones on the evening news and based on his words and his body language I thought “what an angry and closed minded man” — for any man but most especially for one who claims to be a man of God. A man who our precious Bible tells us will be held to a higher standard. I prayed for him, his church, our country, all Christians and all Muslims. I went to bed and slept and this morning I was pondering on this burning of the Koran and wondered what we could do to stop this terrible injustice before it was committed? PRAY. God is in control and He will intercede with HIS will. I trust and believe that. I remember a few years ago when, in a Muslim nation, one of our precious freedom fighters was lit on fire and dragged through the streets. A group of Muslims were celebrating and cheering. The image crushed my heart. Not just for the soldier and his family and fellow servers in that foreign land but for the Muslims, that their hearts are so full of hatred for Christians and infidels that they cannot experience the love and forgiveness for ‘their neighbors’ that our precious Savior gives to us who love Him. Think about it — burning a human being, one of God’s creations, burning the Koran — both are so senseless and cruel. So, I ask, implore, beg that everyone PRAY. Pray outrageous prayers for peace and love for this world. Sept. 11th is a difficult day for our nation, unfortunately it gave us a taste on our soil what other nations experience continuously. Sept 11th and Ground Zero should always remind us of the atrocities that we all put upon each other every day — in small ways and in large ways — we truly need to learn to pray for each other and ‘love our neighbor’. I have thought about a Muslim Mosque being build on Ground Zero — might that also be God’s plan — a plan where peaceful Muslim’s may worship on the ground that was vicously destroyed by other Muslims. Remember, all Muslim’s do not hate. To think that would be to think that all Christians want to burn the Koran. How much better to pray in a place that caused so much loss of life and so much pain then to cause more pain. We are all sinners — God does not measure which is the worse sin. Please LOVE and PRAY.

  7. Susan McNeal says:

    You nailed this!

  8. Kurt says:

    Well said…

  9. Steve says:

    What a great reminder to start the morning.

    Can I post a link to this on my facebook page?

  10. Rick James says:

    Very well said. Thank you for addressing this. We all need this reminder.

  11. Carol Ann says:

    Finally! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been waiting for someone to step up and be a Christian in this embarrassing situation which is a particular church in Florida. Your use of scripture to describe what a Christ Follower should be was brilliant. In my opinion, what is happening in Florida is exactly what the Christian church (regardless of denomination; as the “Not-yet-Believers” don’t understand denomination) is being held up to ridicule for in our modern society. Your 10 Prerequisites for Being Effective in the Marketplace are being sorely tested by the negative publicity being generated by this one church alone. Why can’t all the church congregations who don’t believe in what this one church is doing rise up and make some noise on behalf of the words of Jesus? I think it is time for the Christian church to start gently pushing back. If only the words of Christ were given as much free publicity as those who distort or ignore scripture.

  12. Arlette Lamphere says:

    I think you should have rephrased the last title a little, not Hating Muselims, though that is what Rev. Jones is doing. It could be taken wrong by any Muselim reading this, OR it should have been clarified as “Hating the terror Muselims are doing.” I have met a wonderful Muselim couple who are into ministry and reaching so many muselims and there are Muselims who love Jesus and want peace just as much as we do. Besides, when we point a finger at the “Muselims” there are 3 pointing back to us. An appeal for “Judge not lest you be judged” would have been a good ending.

  13. Camille Pronovost says:

    When I read “Blessed are the peacemakers”, I thought of you, John. I actually thought if that during yesterday’s catch, and today you are continuing the theme. Bless you for being a peacemaker in this society.

  14. Joyce says:

    Amen and amen!!

  15. Ruby says:

    VERY well said! Amen!!!

  16. Donna says:

    Very well said, John Fischer. Thank you.

  17. Clay says:

    Thank you. This is the right response to Rev. Jones misguided zealotry. He may turn a deaf ear to the church, and to the world, but if he does so to Jesus, it is to Him Mr. Jones will need to give an account.

  18. TB says:

    I think Rev. Jones wants / needs attention. If it weren’t for the media very few people would even know of his intentions. Not that I condone his burning the Koran, if the media would not have broadcast it all over the world, if the event does happen it would not be possibly harming our troops and causing hatred worldwide.

    That being said… I think Rev. Jones needs many many prayers.

  19. Gale R says:

    Joyce took the words right out of my mouth: “Amen and Amen!” because that is exactly what I said when I got through reading today’s Catch.

  20. John Haak says:

    This one is bound to generate many comments. Good for you for opening the can of worms. And since you opened it …

    “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

    I see two aspects to this issue. There is my individual attitude towards Muslims (or wild eyed preachers from Florida) … which your quotes address well. Jesus’ words above speak to the second aspect: What will I do to support others? Or, in this case, how far will I go to support someone’s right of free speech?

    So at the end of the day I must be ready to defend everyone’s right to do exactly the opposite of what I would do. Even Judas had Jesus’ support … not condemnation.

    • jwfisch says:

      Yes. However, this is a hard pill to swallow for many who are unwilling to think far enough into this. And then there are unscrupulous leaders who prey on people’s fears–the false teachers of today.

  21. Jolene Erickson says:

    RIGHT ON JOHN! Thank you for quoting our Lord and Master whose words should guide our response to any situation or person.

  22. Lynn says:

    We need to pray for Rev Jones also….
    He is from what I read trying to terrorize the Muslims….
    Jesus is always waiting and encouraging us. He stands at the door and knocks….He doesn’t break the door down, insult us and tell us we are from the devil in hopes that we will follow Him. He loves us into the kingdom and then sends us into our corner of the kingdom blown by the Spirit…..
    Below are a couple things I read lately…..
    They even have a Facebook page with a mission statement to justify their actions:

    “On September 11th, 2010 we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!”

    “We feel, as Christians, one of our jobs is to warn,” said Jones, and that the goal these and other protests are to give Muslims an opportunity to convert.

    And we don’t need another phobia……

    In the Orlando Sentinel, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said,

    “American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia.”

  23. Mr. Fischer,
    Yesterday I heard on the news a Pastor from Tennessee give his account of the Muslim’s building a Mosque across the street from his church; I am assuming a Baptist church possibly, anyway, the point is they put up a sign out side their church saying “welcome to the neighborhood.” They have been building for about a year and their Mosque was not finished for them to worship while they celebrated Rahmadad. (I am not sure I spelled that correctly so I apologize if it is incorrect.) The Pastor from the Christian Church said of course they could and they hosted them saying that God was the owner of their church and they could worship Him there. The Pastor also said that the Jesus he loves and believes in says “love your neighbor” and that is what they intend to do.
    Paul said in 1Co. 10:23-24 “Everything is permissable”…. but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissable”….but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others.
    I do not believe our God or our country needs defending by destroying another mans Koran; it will cause more harm than good. I believe the Pastor that has invited the Muslim’s into his church has won more for God than the destruction of that book will ever do.

  24. Sherri says:

    I wholeheartedly concur with my coworker Jolene. Jesus words should always temper our responses. Thank you for quoting His words!! Hopefully we will all carry them in our hearts these next few days which will cause us all to need His forgiveness and those who have lost loved ones in 9/11 to have to revisit that hardest thing of all… to forgive!

  25. mamaj says:

    I think that Jones’ five mins is up.

  26. Mark Anderson says:

    It saddens me deeply that people who call themselves Christians have chosen to take the action that the Dove World Outreach Center is planning. Was wondering if you were going to weigh in on this subject, and I’m glad to see you did. I have seen no better commentary than yours.

  27. ken anderson says:

    as usual a great article, but there is more. Jesus also said in Matt. 10:34,”Do not think that i came to bring peace on earth. i did not come to bring peace but a sword”. i in no way endorse the actions of Rev. jones, but neither do i endorse doing nothing. Jesus said, “you are the salt of the earth” not the sugar. somehow some way we have got to get the Truth to all peoples. burning books is not an appropriate way, but neither is appeasing everyone. sooner or later we are going to have to take up our crosses and follow him and that is going to require some sacrifice. keep the Truth coming John.

  28. Corey Johnson says:

    What a Man of God in the Old Testament did.

    1 Kings 18 : 26-28

    26 They chose their bull, then they got it ready and prayed to Baal all morning, asking him to start the fire. They danced around the altar and shouted, “Answer us, Baal!” But there was no answer.

    27 At noon, Elijah began making fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “Baal must be a god. Maybe he’s day-dreaming or using the toilet or traveling somewhere. Or maybe he’s asleep, and you have to wake him up.”

    28 The prophets kept shouting louder and louder, and they cut themselves with swords and knives until they were bleeding. This was the way they worshiped,

    29 and they kept it up all afternoon. But there was no answer of any kind.

  29. Priscilla Lo says:

    While some people tend to think of ‘salt’ as a preservative, I’d rather think of the salt we put in our food to add flavor. And we all want some water/drink to go with savory dishes. Jesus is the water for our soul thirst. Our mission is to bring people to Jesus, not to judge the world or our neighbors. To take on an abrasive front in our dealings with others does not go with Scripture. I Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing”.

    I have been praying for this pastor and his congregation, who call themselves Dove World Outreach, that they live up to their name. And if they truly believe in Scripture, and are sincerely praying for God’s direction, that these words from Jesus and the Holy Spirit will be the bright light on their ‘road to Damascus’.

  30. Wes Kroeker says:

    Excellent response! It sounds like something from the Counter-reformationists – the Radical Reformationists – the Anabaptists – the Mennonites – the early Church – AND Jesus.

  31. Janet says:

    Thank you John Fischer for giving us a home online. Only in His love is there comfort from the barrage of webpages that spread misery among us. I had felt fear of retaliation by the violent members of Islam if the Koran burning had occurred. Thank you Jesus for this blog where like minded Christians can speak of love and comfort from His word. Only by being His soldiers can we calm the frightened spirits who need Him most. Spreading His love will help bring the non believers to His peace.

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