“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
We need to be very careful how we present the Gospel to the world. Please read this editorial. See the Gospel Coalition’s August article on Whether ISIS is Beheading Children. Back in August, there was some question whether the beheadings were really happening. It seems to be accepted as fact now, but the point of the article is important. We need to avoid being carried away with emotion and fleshy anger.
In that light this article is a must read! (A Christian Response to ISIS) This is an extreme example, but what of those who are “enemies” of Christ in culture, politics, whatever? What would Jesus do? How would Jesus respond? We need to think and pray about that.
What got me started down this path is this video of a Muslim man confronting some Christian street preachers holding signs and talking on a loud speaker. (See video posted on Political Insider) As things heat up, the “preacher” on the megaphone begins to antagonize the Muslim, who is already agitated.
- “God loved Jacob, but He hated Esau; and Esau is the Muslim beginning”
- “Allah was the moon god, did you know that?”
- “They don’t even know the name of their god. What’s your god’s name?”
- “This guy, all he does is flap his lips. Flap. Flap. Flap”
- “God raises up a vessel of destruction, and here is one right here.”
- “You filthy pig. Poor filthy pig”
- “What kind of prophet has sex with a nine year old girl? …. He was a pedophile.”
- “Go have yourself a bacon sandwich.”
Of course, the Muslim was calling the people holding the signs “infidels” saying, “You’re all going to hell.”
The tensions mount, and then they get into a scuffle in which the Muslim head butts one of the sign holders who was calling Muhammad a pedophile. It is an ugly scene. The Muslim is taken away to jail, but the man who gets head-butted is issued a citation as well. (Think “Fire” in a crowded theater.)
Is this the way Jesus acted? Can you picture Paul antagonizing people in this way? I can’t.
This scene and others like it, however, reveal what may be in store for us as the Rock and the hard place meet, as Christianity and Islam collide. As Christians, are we going to be like Peter, lopping off the centurion’s ear with a sword? Or are we going to be like Stephen the martyr? One was reprimanded, and the other commended.
I am not saying that Christians should never fight to protect other people from harm. I am talking about how we present ourselves and the Gospel to the world, even to the Muslim world.
The Muslims I have heard who have converted to Christianity did not convert because someone taunted them, berated them or provoked them. In fact, that is exactly the behavior a Muslim expects from an “infidel.” The Muslims I have heard who converted to Christianity did so because they had an encounter with Jesus through the love of Christians.
How we carry ourselves and present the Gospel to the world is as important as the Gospel itself. If we are a city set on a hill, what is the message our city is sending? Are we the light of the world? Do we represent Jesus who humbly submitted Himself to obedience, even to death on the cross for the sake of the Gospel?