So lately I have been seeing a lot of ‘anti-Islam’ video’s, photos and articles over the internet. With the emergence of ISIS, a fresh movement of anti-Islam has started. I have seen a lot of Christian posting material over facebook that shows how passages in the Quran command people to kill non-Muslim, how the texts support violence etc. The aim of these postings is to show to people that they believe that Islam isn’t inherently peaceful but inherently violent, and that we are to be warned that Muslims have a worldview that could justify violence even amongst its most non-violent adherers.
Now, I am no expert in the Quran. I haven’t read the historical & literally context of the passages put on these video’s and articles. From what I see at the surface they do look pretty barbaric & violent. However, I know that there are passages taken out of the Bible that- when used out of context- make adherers to Christianity look pretty warped as well. The passages I see people use are taken out of context, and then we have to talk about these passages until we are blue in the face about how it isn’t what it looks like. I wonder to myself: are we (and I am speaking to my Christian audience at the moment) taking their passages out of context, just the same way people take passages out of the Bible out of context? That’s another question for another time. But I want to talk about the anti-Islam material I have seen online and talk about something else that hasn’t been spoken about near as much on social media. I’ve seen a lot of anti-Islam posts but I haven’t seen many posts about Christians loving adherents of Islam.
You see, it’s pretty easy to think your right and then just go around telling people that you are right and everyone else is wrong. It’s also pretty easy to never speak up against or for anything. Christians often swing into two extremes: either being vocal about their faith and the wrongness of others- but not being that loving, or the other extreme is befriending other person with different worldviews (which is a good thing) but treating their faith & worldview as equally right as theres.
But here’s the thing: a true Christian identity neither compromises on truth nor just rattle words out of their mouths against the other in unloving and non-connecting ways; Jesus transcends those extremes in one thing: Love. So where are the video posts on loving our neighbours? Where are our actions of love beyond words?
Love can both speak the truth but also serve our neighbours. And yet how many video’s do you see on Facebook that promote Christians to love Muslims? To love atheists? To love the GLBTQI community? To love anyone with a different belief than you? Those friends you have who always post these anti-Islam video’s- how many of them also post about how we are to love our Muslim neighbours in word and deed? How many of them post videos about how Jesus being a servant to all humanity?
Anyone can post an ‘anti-Islam’ video, but it’s harder to love.
Are we not called to the greater challenge of love?
Jesus makes it very clear: Love your enemies.
Jesus makes it very clear: Pray for your enemies.
Jesus makes it very clear: Love your neighbour.
And who is your neighbour? That’s the exact question Jesus is asked by one of His Jewish countrymen, and He responds with this story:
“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?” He said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Now here’s the thing: Samaritans were hated by Jesus’ target audience. And yet Jesus uses a good Samaritan in the story. What does this tell us about neighbour love? A Samaritan, who considered the man on the ground to be an enemy, loves him. He shows kindness, compassion, and charity. He provides him safety, provides him shelter, goes the extra mile. And that man didn’t even come from Jesus’ people group. In fact, one might go as far as calling this story “The Good Muslim” in light of our cultural context.
So how are you loving today? How are you showing kindness, compassion, hospitality, friendship, giving of safety, of alms, of love, to the “other”? Whoever the “other” is in your world are.
Honestly, which one do you think will lead to the lasting change of love that Jesus called us into. A anti Islam video? Or good deeds of love?
I think the later suffices.
Now some people will say “But Nathan, the most loving thing we can do is tell people the truth as well”. Let me say right of the bat that there is a place for truth telling, absolutely. After all, this article here fits the category of truth telling (Because I am pointing people to the truth of Jesus to love everyone). But the truth telling done over social media: is it just words? Aren’t we called to both word and deed? Did not the Apostle James speak about the folly of loving people with words but not with deeds of love? And what about Paul- his chapter on love says that we can speak with tongues of angels but have not love; we can have the right words but an unloving heart expressed in our lack of deeds of love. Let me be clear: I am for truth, but truth without love means nothing, and love is expressed not through words only. Now we don’t need less than words either of course, but we do need more than words- because our words alone don’t mean a lot if that’s all we are doing…Posting video’s and photos. I think we can do better- myself included.
It’s here we can pray to our merciful Jesus and confess and turn us around to make us more radical lovers, to put people in our path in which we can enact neighbour love. True Christian identity is neither harshness nor mere tolerance, but benevolence- a benevolence that transcends & than transforms even the ways we do our truth telling as well as the ways we love those who don’t share our same faith. We love & speak truth as if those two things are not in opposition to another, and we do those things the way Jesus did- not be ruling it over people, but- in humility- serving others; winning not through the love of power over people, but through the power of love that affects people in life transforming ways.
Jesus’ movement of love is possibly the only movement that seeks to also benefit its non-adherence. At least, that’s what happens when His followers love their neighbours- despite who their neighbours are.