Like many Americans, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. A friend and I had spent the night outside in his tent, and his dad had come outside to let us know that the World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane. At first I didn’t believe my friend’s dad, so I ran into the family room to watch the television. The television channel replayed the airplane crashing into the Twin Towers time and time again. I still remember feeling very sad to the point of tears for the loss of life and the destruction those men had done.
September 11, 2010 marks the nine year anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. September 11th, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy among Americans for as long as America is a country. It is a day every American and even those who aren’t Americans will remember. It is a day a nation was attacked by terrorists and by members of Islam who want nothing more than to destroy this nation.
Terrorists have harmed America before the events of September 11th, and they have attempted to attack America on her own soil and those who support her after September 11th. These terrorists claim to be Muslims. President Bush in one of his speeches proclaimed that Islam is a religion of peace. President Obama wants America to be viewed differently by Muslims. Who is right and does it even matter?
Recently a Christian church in Florida has said it plans on burning the Quran on September 11, 2010. Many people have opined on this subject from every conceivable angle. It is not my intention here to wade into already murky waters or to incite a debate here on my blog about the validity of the Mosque at Ground Zero. There is something far greater going on here that many people have completely missed.
Where is the civility in our public discourse? Did Muslims attack the Twin Towers and plan a coordinated attack on the Pentagon and even the White House? The evidence suggests they did exactly that but only accomplished 2/3 of their intended goal. My intention here is not to examine the evidence regarding whether Islam is a religion of peace or not. The fact is Muslims continue to seek to attack America and her interests. Those statements are not opinions they are facts testified by their intention to attack in New York city with a car bomb, as well seeking to harm soldiers seeking to rebuild Afghanistan.
The Church in Florida seeking burn the Quran is not any better than the terrorists who destroyed the Twin Towers. That may be a bold statement but it is true. Where is the concern for the welfare of people who clearly don’t understand who Jesus is and what Jesus has done in His death, burial and resurrection? Where is the obedience to the teaching of Jesus to love our enemies and not seek revenge?
Burning the Quran is not helpful, and it doesn’t prove anything other than this Church and its leadership does not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. September 11, 2001 was a horrific day in the life of America. It was a day Islamic terrorists attacked the Twin Towers which stood as a symbol of financial power America has.
As I’ve reflected on the events of September 11, 2001 and even the recent actions of this Church saying it will burn the Quran, I am left with a profound sense of sadness that causes tears to pour down my face. Both events, the actions of Islamic terrorists and those of that Church if it indeed goes through with burning the Quran prove something that non-Christians argue for all the time. Non-Christians argue that all religion does is promote war not peace. As we look across history of the Church it is not hard to see that Christians have made mistakes. It is not hard to see that America has made many choices regarding going to war- after all we inhabit nearly every country with a military presence around the world.
Regardless of the validity of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, regardless of the Islamic terrorists striking down the Twin Towers- regardless of all of that the fact remains that Christians are called to love their enemy. This of course does not legitimize all the death that has occurred or even mean that I support those wars as they stand. Let me be clear- as the son of a retired Lt. Colonel, having a grandfather who served in World War 2 under General Eisenhower, an uncle who was a Chief Petty Officer, multiples of people on my wife side of the family who have served in the military and many friends who have served in war, when I say I support the troops fighting for our freedom, I mean it. I am not opposed to war. When a Christian church say it’s going to burn Qurans they are in the wrong.
Matthew 5: 43“You have heard that it was said,’You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies andpray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, andsends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers,what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must beperfect,as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The first thing Jesus teaches here in Matthew 5:43-45 is Jesus correcting the people in verse 43. In verse 44 Jesus teaches that those who follow Him are to be defined by “loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Those are strong but necessary words from Our Lord and Master who sees into our hearts and knows us from afar. Our Risen Lord Jesus because He knows us through and through knows what we will do if we do not obey His Word and follow in His footsteps.
What exactly would we do apart from Christ? The truth of the sinful nature of mankind is seen in the events of September 11, 2001. Those events prove that sin does exist and it drives people to do things that are not rational. Destroying a building full of people with an airplane is not rational behavior. It is insane behavior motivated by religious hatred. The same behavior though clearly motives those who seek to burn the Quran. If these Christians burn the Quran as they seem bent upon doing then they have disobeyed a fundamental teaching of Jesus on living out our Christian life. Jesus teaches us to pray for those who are our enemies- those who seek to do harm to us. Surely, Islam with its intent on world domination and allegiance to Allah wants nothing more than to be even further incited to act against Christian in the West (as well as around the world). Yet, Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies.
Praying for our enemies is very important! It is important because the only thing separating us as Christians from being non-Christians is the work of Christ. Only Christ saves. Only Christ offers mercy. Only Christ through His shed blood, burial and resurrection offer life to those who come to Him. Only Christ can do this- no man can manipulate God into accepting them into heaven. Only Christ through His work in the Cross & resurrection intercedes for His own can mediate the covenant He died to establish. Only Christ can do His work of drawing, convicting and wooing people by His grace, for His glory.
We who were once God’s enemies ought to know better. We ought to know better because if we have transferred from death to life in Christ- then we ought to know all too well that we do not deserve the grace of God. Yet it seems today not only through this event with this Church but also across the evangelical Church- that we have forgotten the grace of God. We forget that we are called to be agents of grace- salt and light to the world around us. We forget that Christ expects us to represent Him. Christ expects us to represent Him in a way that brings glory to His name. Christ expects Christians to reflect His holiness to others as we grow in His grace and minister in His power.
All of this leads to my main point. We can only pray that this local Church in Florida does not do what they are saying they will do- namely burn Qurans. Whether we realize it or not or even admit it- the Gospel is at stake here. The Gospel is not just some message that we get saved by. The Gospel is the means God uses to draw us, woo us and sanctify us. The Gospel is not just the message Christians proclaim- it is the means God uses to develop godly character in us. Therefore, if this Church does this- it will give the Church and the Gospel a bad name which grieves the Spirit of God.
The Gospel is always at stake like this every day even though we may not realize it. The Gospel is for all of life. Lest we forget this- think back to when you were saved by the grace and kindness of our King Jesus Christ. Think back on the work God is doing in your life now. This will give you some perspective and prayerfully some humility. Pray for those who seek to do this horrific act, and while you’re at it- pray that God would be glorified in every area of your life. Pray that you would be crushed by the Gospel of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict you of old habits that haven’t died yet in your life. Pray that God would move afresh in your life. Pray for this ministry.
In conclusion, we are not any better than the terrorists who hit the Twin Towers. We are not better than the Church and its leadership who seek to burn Qurans. We are no better than any of them. Until we have grappled with the Gospel- specifically the kindness, mercy and grace that God pours out through the Gospel we will not pray for our enemies.
Praying for your enemies is not an option- it is a command. At one time you were an enemy of God. You were estranged by God. Yet, God through the ministry of the Word and Spirit drew you to Christ. Even though you made a decision to accept Christ- it was Christ who brought you from death to life through His Work on the Cross. It was Christ through His resurrection who gives you new life. It is not about you- it is all about Jesus Christ. It is all about displaying His glory in the world through the message and means of the Gospel.
Finally, I pray that every single Christian would grab hold of the Gospel. I pray that we as God’s people would not just speak the Gospel but that we would be transformed by the Gospel. May the message of the Gospel seep into our bones, & out of our bones shine through all our words and into the lives of hurting and broken people.
In Christ Alone,
I am also happy to hear from my readers. You can contact me through our contact from at https://servantsofgrace.org/contact/ You can follow Dave on twitter at http://twitter.com/pastordavej