Two highly visible situations involving Islam give us an opportunity to demonstrate the truth of our faith. As a principle, Paul told the Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”1 We’re to avoid doing things that knowingly antagonize and alienate others. As Christians we’re to take the lead in living at peace with others. We do this to point to Jesus Christ who made peace between God and man.
Recently I watched a video of Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission. Loren said, “polarization leads to pride.”2 Polarization does not lead to peace with others.
Ground Zero Mosque
The mosque being planned near the site of Ground Zero in New York City has dominated political commentary in recent weeks. It has polarized opinion. The promoters say it is at least partly to honor the 9/11 victims. They say blocking the mosque will send the wrong signal to American Muslims and could lead to more Islamic radicalism. It could also cause other acts of “Islamophobia” they claim.
Opponents of the mosque have maintained that the site is wrong. It would symbolize Islamic triumphalism. It would dishonor the victims of 9/11. Most Americans, according to the polls, want the mosque built further away from Ground Zero. (For example, two thirds of New Yorkers oppose the site but not the right to build 3 )
Proponents of the construction correctly maintain that, as Americans, Muslim citizens have a right to build the mosque there. But not everything we have a right to do is the right thing to do.
Burning the Qur’an
At the opposite pole, Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, is promoting a day to gather people and burn the Qur’an. For a Muslim, the Qur’an is a sacred object of their religion. They are more emphatic about the physical book itself than are Christians. For a Muslim it’s an extreme insult to set a Qur’an on the floor. Dr. Jones, author of ‘Islam is of the Devil,’ is saying that Christians have to take a stand. He holds that this action will demonstrate that we must reject Shariah Law.
Opponents are saying Jones is putting Christians in many places in danger. Muslims are outraged. Significantly, many Christians including the National Association of Evangelicals are asking Dr. Jones not to have the burning. But the day is set for September 11 to burn the Qur’an.
I fear that Loren Cunningham’s observation that “polarization leads to pride” is an issue here. Will the Christians take Paul’s advice and “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Or will human pride prevent that? Can we expect the Muslim organizers to back off of the construction? It is our Bible that tells us to live at peace with all to the best of our ability. The Qur’an does not teach that.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chief mosque builder has dug in his heels regarding the site of the mosque, in spite of public outcry. He told an audience recently, “the fact we are getting this kind of attention is a sign of success.”4 Terry Jones and his followers are steeling themselves in the face of much anger and many warnings from fellow Christians. A recent church e mail said, “City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”5
Does Christianity work? This is a chance for the Christians to take the lead by backing down from an antagonistic position and showing the world the supremacy of the Gospel. Jesus taught us to be willing take the low road. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”6 This is a critical moment. It’s a golden opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the preeminence of our faith.
Let us pray that Dr. Jones does the right thing!
I encourage you to email the Dove World Outreach Center and ask him to stop the burning on 9/11.
1 - Romans 12:18 (New International Version)
2 - From Loren Cunningham's message, “Ministering in the Opposite Spirit”
3 - http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/09/03/poll-new-yorkers-conflicted-on-ground-zero-mosque/
4 - www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iNLTahM5QJw8Ts0SpTgWLjXwN7gAD9HOPCJ80
5 - www.rightpundits.com/?p=7084
6 - Matthew 5:9