If you've watched the news or, like me, paid attention to trending topics on Twitter (sadly, that's how I find out alot of things these days), then you've guessed what I'm talking about. A pastor in Gainesville, FL has decided to mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11 by publicly burning the Qur'an. If you haven't followed the story, take a minute to click on the link before going any further -- you'll catch up on the details as well as see quotes from Palin, Clinton, and Beck.
Now, I understand where the pastor is coming from. There are still deep wounds here from the 9/11 attacks. Anger. Fear. Frustration that Al Qaeda is still out there trying to kill us. Grief. And the Qur'an is a book that teaches principles counter to God's truth. It does espouse revenge, holy war, and teaches another way to God besides the cross. There is every reason in the world to want to respond in kind to the warfare that has been waged on us.
But that is just the point. Jesus came to teach us another way. He tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. In the linked passage, he makes this statement,
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.This has always struck me as a mark of real faith in Christ. When you can love those who hate your guts, it's clear that there is something supernatural controlling your heart. Loving your family and friends, not so much...Jesus said anybody can do that. And then he says,
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.So why should we do it? Because that's what our Father does every single day, and we should be like him. It's also what our Savior did on the day of his crucifixion. It's the most evident proof to the world that the gospel is real and Jesus was who he said he was.
So as I see it, there is the ultimate irony. A pastor sees a book that teaches hate, and he is so consumed by fear and frustration that he plans a symbolic venomous response. He sees a book that erroneously minimizes the mission of Christ, and he minimizes it by hating his enemies. He seeks to commemorate perhaps the most terrible event any of us have witnessed by inflaming the ones who brought it on us.
It's a human response. It's natural. Which is exactly the point. When Jesus takes hold of your mind and heart, he leads you to a supernatural faith and love, so that everyone can see that it came from above.
It's my prayer that Rev. Terry Jones will be captured by the overwhelming love of the Savior he preaches and send a message of love instead of revenge. But even more, it's my prayer that when I am personally mistreated, lied to, cheated on, or abused, that I will let Christ respond through me in ways that I never could myself.