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Jesus Loves Muslims Too

December 16th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

In this week there was a crisis in Australia where a self-styled Muslim cleric took a number of hostages. The result was the death of the gunman and two innocents. Then this morning I woke up to learn that there was a massacre of school children in Pakistan, apparently done in the name of Allah. And then of course all year we have been hearing about ISIS and the atrocities they are committing. And I am a man who doesn’t like to judge. I want to believe that the image of God in all people makes them desire peace. And yet I found myself wondering this morning if these acts were committed by those who claim to be the most devoted followers of Islam, if there wasn’t something about Islam that really does drive people to evil.

I profess to be a follower of Christ. But I believe that the profession means little if it is not made manifest by self-sacrificing love. That means that what I say about my profession means little compared to what I do. As an insider, I know that there is a lot of this self-sacrificing love demonstrated by Christians all over the world. But if the only thing I knew about Christianity came from news outlets and social media, I would never know this. Because those sources are not interested in giving voice, only to speaking. And so in the larger debate those who are not outrageous have no voice.

It is in fact this negative portrayal of Christianity that many of us who are Christians have to struggle with. It makes some of us embarrassed to be identified as Christians, and it makes others of us defensive, and in some cases offensive. I can say from personal experience that I once associated almost all but especially “evangelical” Christians with a narrow minded and judgmental bigotry. It made it difficult for me to cross the bridge from functional non-believer to discipleship.

The one thing I learned is that it is of little use to try to defend myself and the Church against this perception. Nobody cares if I proclaim, no matter how boldly and passionately, “that’s not true! That’s not how we are!” No one’s mind will be changed about Christianity by rational argument, no matter how rational. What changes people’s mind about Christianity is love. The truth is that we can rarely love on the grand scale; we have to love in small ways, on a personal level.

Here’s the thing. As an educator at a public institution I work with people from everywhere and from all backgrounds. One of the things I have come to appreciate about the United States as a nation is that we can all end up in the same classroom and we can all learn to get along. I attend a church that is ethnically mixed. I love that people from different backgrounds can come together and worship God without fear. And all of us have something unique and special to contribute to the greater good. I have come to believe that this is the American Dream, all people coming together as one in a beautiful mosaic. And I believe that is what God’s kingdom is intended to look like. So while I would not equate the United States with God’s kingdom (I don’t believe God’s love has borders), I can see in the best of the United States a shadow of the vision of God’s promise.

Many of my students are Muslim. Most of them are in the United States and in college so that they can enjoy the freedoms that the American Dream offers. Some of them are escaping religious persecution in their own countries of origin. They want what the rest of us want. And this leads me to wonder, what if the news outlets and social media reported all of the times that Muslims care for others? What if they published when they fed the homeless? What if they celebrated when Muslims and non-Muslims were able to come together and accomplish good? Don’t believe that just because we don’t hear about it it doesn’t happen. What would we think of Muslims then?

I love this quote by Mother Teresa:

How you live your life is proof that you are or not fully His. We cannot condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. We don’t know in what way God is appearing to that soul and what God is drawing that soul to; therefore, who are we to condemn anybody?

What do I take this to mean? God has not made it clear to me the state or destiny of your soul. But he has made it clear to me that he wants me to love you. Like Jesus loves.

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