Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Defending the faith

Riots in Egypt against American Embassy
Today's BBC headlines scream that Muslims are rampaging against the American embassies in Cairo and Libya. Why? Someone apparently in the USA produced a film the Islamists consider insulting to Muhammad. Which begs two questions:
  1. Why do Muslims feel the need to violently defend their prophet and the Koran from possible slights and destruction?
  2. Why don't Christians feel the need to defend their Savior and the Bible with similar uprisings? News feeds report that adherents of various world religions trash the Bible, kill Christian believers, and destroy churches almost every week.
The answers to both may be the same. The prophet cannot defend himself or his Koran. His followers acknowledge that he is dead. Only the activities - and frequent militancy - of his followers guard his ideas and keep his legacy alive.

In contrast, Christians believe Jesus is a living Savior who intercedes for them and actively leads and guides them - not only in history, but today. Scripture speaks in the present tense as God's unfolding relationship with humankind. Christians understand that God's Word (the Bible) lives and breathes beyond printed or recited words. Therefore, while burning the Bible's pages may prevent access to scripture, it cannot harm God or his self-revelation to humanity.

Mission of Mercy, Calcutta
Christians are obligated to care for and defend the weak, poor, and defenseless. BUT nowhere do Jesus or his disciples ask Christ-followers to protect Jesus' reputation from insults through violent or destructive uprisings against governments or attacks on "infidels." (Though Israel conquered and defended itself against surrounding nations in the Old Testament, Jesus never participated in the Jewish uprisings against the Roman government of his day.)

Jesus acknowledged that families would feud and people would kill each other in his name. But he never sanctioned such behavior. Today Christians rarely burn flags or attack embassies, though we read about many  appeals for justice and mercy on behalf of orphans, widows, and persecuted fellow believers. Sometimes they defend themselves and their villages with weapons, too.

The Turkish Saladin fighting Crusaders
Many violent things have been done in the name of Christ, including offensives against those who attacked the Christian faith and communities. The Crusades, arguably also political fight for survival, recruited its participants as a response to Muslim slaughter in the Middle East and Europe - and totally got out of hand. It gave Christianity its still-stinking reputation among Muslims and Jews (though historically, Christians don't remember as vehemently the entire areas that were devastated by contemporaneous and gruesome Muslim conquests...)

SO ... do you think current Muslim protectionism of their religion is warranted? In view of the extremest Islam bent to violence, do Christians have a responsibility to "do no harm"?

On the other hand, is defense of scripture and Christianity needed today? If so, how should that be done?

Read more:
*He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4 

*Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. Psalm 139:4 

*Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:1-5 NIV

*The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

*The good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden. 1 Timothy 5:25 (NKJV)

Moravian Prayer:  By the light of day we serve you who never slumbers, O God. Shaking off the darkness of sin and doubt, we clothe ourselves with your Holy Spirit. May we never grow weary in our ministry, fighting the powers and principalities that would lull us into the sleepiness of indifference. Equip your saints, Lord Jesus, for the battles ahead.

Lord, in you alone we are an unstoppable force. Even when we think you are far away, you are so close. Even when we have hidden from you or run away, you are always there. We will not deny you any longer, but spread the word of your glory and goodness. Let our works magnify you among the peoples. Amen.

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