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)