when your brother seems your enemy

A guest post by Shadrach…

“In protest of what it calls a religion ‘of the devil,’ a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an ‘International Burn a Quran Day’ on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.” So began CNN’s first article on the planned actions of one Pastor Terry Jones and his 50-strong congregation.

I experienced a wave of emotions when I first heard the news. I have dozens of Muslim friends and it broke my heart that someone might so offend them. I thought of the Christian lives that could be lost in retaliatory action in Muslim countries. I wept for the reputation of Christ and that Muslims the world over may be turned away from exploring the gospel. I felt so ashamed that someone would do such a thing in the name of Christ, and I hoped I wouldn’t bump into my Muslim friends and have to talk about it.

Political and religious leaders from around the world responded with near-desperate pleas for Jones to reconsider. Unsurprisingly, and thankfully, the action was roundly condemned by evangelical leaders from around America. Of course, the vast majority of Christians said, Christ’s teaching don’t support Jones’ actions.

Everyone was jumping up and down and calling upon Jones and his congregation to take heed of Jesus’ command to love our enemies, not burn their books. But I was wondering who my enemy really was? I rarely struggle to love Muslims; my challenge was to apply Jesus’ command to Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center.

How do we love our brothers and sisters when their wisdom-lacking zeal appears to be working against the gospel and the glory of God? I don’t know that I have any answer other than Jesus’ simple principles of forgiving them, praying for them, blessing them. So, while I prayed Jones would come to his senses and the event wouldn’t go ahead, I also prayed for him and his congregation and asked God to bless them.

And I praised God, with a deep relief I’ve rarely felt, when Jones announced he would cancel the event. Thank God.

(For a great intellectual response to Burn a Quran Day, check out Mark Durie’s blog.)

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