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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Protestants have a hard time listening to and learning from Catholics. Both are Christians, but we all like to find enough of a difference with others to justify not learning from them. Think of how much more true this is with people from a completely different religion? When was the last time you truly learned something significant in your life from someone of a different religion?

Yasmin Mogahed has written a helpful piece on marriage. We can all learn something from it. What so impressed me though, was that what she shared she had learned from a Christian author. She references Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. In this book he lays out research that says that men most need respect from their wives while woman most need love from their husbands. The problem, then, is that when a husband isn’t loving to his wife, she often responds with disrespect, which leads to unloving behavior from the husband and on and on. It is a cycle that can only be broken when the husband determines to love his wife whether she is respectful or not. Or when the wife determines to respect her husband whether he shows love or not. This idea about love and respect comes right out of the Bible, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

I love that this Muslim woman is setting such a good example for the rest of us. She knows that she has a lot to learn from Christians. I have seen this first hand in my own life. It was my Syrian Muslim neighbors in Damascus who taught me what it means to be a good neighbor. This was especially good for me to learn since Jesus the Messiah commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). I have always been so grateful for what they taught me about being a good neighbor through hospitality and genuine concern and love for a neighbor.

When was the last time you learned something from someone from a different religion? If you haven’t, why not?

HT: Tia

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Is Islam a religion of war or peace? I get asked this question a lot. I know that people are asking this question again after all of the attacks on US embassies throughout the Middle East. I’ll give you my answer to this question and then I’ll tell you why I am posting about it.

I don’t know. There you have it, that’s my answer. I don’t claim to be an expert in Islam. Even if I was I am not sure how well I could answer this question. Honestly, I see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of war. There are Muslim scholars who confirm this (though they might not state it this way). There are some really hard verses in the Qur’an. There are plenty of violent acts throughout the history of Islam. And of course, we see the violence perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.

However, I can also see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of peace. There are Muslims scholars who confirm this. There are good pointers in the Qur’an towards peace. Within the history of Islam there have been times of peace and prosperity. And of course, we see acts of kindness and love perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.

So which is it? Again, I honestly don’t know. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care. That probably doesn’t sound good. Honestly, I am not that concerned about what true Islam is. I am more concerned about what my Muslim friend believes. This is not because I don’t care about the truth or don’t think that objective truth is real. I do. I care very much. It is because I have personally settled the issue of truth. Jesus the Messiah says in the Injil, “I am the truth” (see the Gospel according to John 14:6). He is enough for me. I am not saying Christianity is the truth. I am saying that Jesus is the truth. The truth of God has been embodied in a person.

When I am with my Muslim friend I don’t need to know what true Islam is. I need to know my friend. I want to know what he believes. Does he believe that such acts of violence in the name of Islam are justified? Or does he repudiate them? That’s what matters to me.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I care deeply for Muslims as a group and for my Muslim friends in particular. I am really grateful to God for the relationships he has given me and the friends I have been blessed by. You also know that I have not been afraid to call anti-Islamic statements evil. I am more than willing to call out the evil from Christians regarding Muslims. I believe this film is offensive and the opposite of love.

However, one thing I really haven’t done is also call out the evil that Muslims have done. I feel angry about the response to this movie. I understand why it is offensive. But I cannot and will not understand the need to destroy property and ultimately kill others because of it, especially those who had absolutely nothing to do with the making of the film. I do not hold the American government responsible for the evil of individual citizens anymore than I hold other governments responsible for the evil of their individual citizens.

I am angry because the destructive and deadly responses are evil. I am angry because these responses make non-Muslims living in the Middle East fearful. I have American friends who live all over the Middle East who are fearful that they may need to flee. I am angry because the radical murderous Muslims are giving all of my Muslim friends a bad name. I am angry because the work that I do in trying to promote understanding and peace between Muslims and Christians can so easily be derailed by the site of angry mobs. I am angry because all people are made in God’s image and we are not treating each other with the respect that this simple truth demands. God made us. And therefore he loves us. How is it that this truth doesn’t change everything about how we live with people different than us?!

I feel for Muslims who are appalled at what is taking place. Surely they bear a greater burden of responsibility over their community than I do, but what can they do? I don’t know. And even if my responsibility is not as great, I still am responsible for my reaction and for the circle of influence I have.

So I will pray. I will pray to the God of peace. I will pray for those who have sinned in making the movie and those who have sinned in their response to the movie. I will continue to show the way of love that Jesus Christ teaches us. His way is the way of the cross. He didn’t kill his enemies. He died for them. He didn’t end their lives. He laid down his own.

The way of the cross is the only way forward because it teaches us to humble ourselves and extend the forgiveness we have received to others. It teaches us to love our enemies and to seek their good. It teaches us to love mercy and not merely insist on justice.

I will pray and I will seek to daily die to myself and my selfish desires so that I can love others, even others who don’t love me.

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Mosque Burning

I was really sad when I read that a mosque in Joplin, Missouri was burned down on Monday. It is likely that it was arson since someone had already tried to set it on fire July 4th (only minimal damage was done then). This, along with the even worse tragedy in Wisconsin at the Sikh temple, shows what a messed up world we live in. And it shows that religious extremism and violence against people from other religions is not simply a problem “over there” (wherever that is). It is a problem in America, among those who call themselves Christians.

Many people like to point out how intolerant Muslims are. And yes, there is intolerance among some Muslims. But are we not like the person Jesus spoke of who tries to take the speck out of his brother’s eye even though there is a log in his own (Matthew 7:1-5)? Even among those who would never dream of doing something like burning down a mosque or injuring a person of another faith, we like to think of the world in terms of us versus them.

I’m glad there is a Christian in Joplin who recognizes God’s call to love others as we love ourselves. Ashly Carter, a Christian college student, is planning an event on Saturday to promote “acts of love.” I like it. I think some Christians won’t. Why? Because they will be suspicious that Ashly is promoting an “all religions are the same so let’s love each other” kind of event. I don’t believe all religions are the same. I don’t believe all religions lead us to God (in fact, I don’t believe any religion leads us to God – I bet that will get some people going!). But even if she does believe this (I have no idea what she believes), I still rejoice that people come together in love rather than stay separated in fear and suspicion or even hatred.

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In Peter Hong’s guest post at Eboo Patel’s blog, Hong makes the case for loving, tolerant fundamentalism. In fact, he argues that if Christians really understood the cross it would be impossible to be intolerant.

What is the truth that all Christians say everyone must know? Ought to believe? It’s Jesus Christ on the cross. And what do you see on the cross–the Son of God dying, bleeding, serving and loving his enemies. If you take into the very center of your being as the absolute truth this Jesus, dying for people who oppose him, hate him, could that possibly make you intolerant, arrogant, and judgmental towards opposing people? Of course not! If it does, then, you haven’t grasped Christianity. You have a veneer of it, not the essence.

Read the whole thing.

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