Monday, August 23, 2010

On the Proposed NYC Mosque

I have hesitated thus far to weigh in on the proposed Ground Zero Mosque (or whatever it is called) in Manhattan. However, since I've heard a great deal of bluster about it, I thought this would be a good time.

I am writing as a follower of Jesus Christ to other followers of Jesus Christ.

I'll be honest: the political side of this carries no interest for me. As is typical, political conservatives are generally against the mosque, while liberals are generally for it. No surprise there.

The problem is that many, many Christians have lashed themselves to the Republican party, which at least claims to be conservative. The outcome is predictable. Most Christians at least appear to be against the mosque being located near the World Trade Center site.

What is fascinating, sad, and also predictable is that when Christians state why they are against it, their arguments are based on pragmatic reasoning, emotions, and/or political party affiliation. Their reasons are not constitutional or, more importantly, biblical.

I have yet to hear a Christian provide a coherent, biblical reason for why this mosque should not be located in Manhattan.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to sacrificially love all people. Christ expects us to love as He loved. Because of this, we must love even those who want to kill us. We should expect to be hated and despised by the world. Why would the world love or even tolerate us when it killed our Lord?

Conservative Americans have been giving the Muslim world the message that we despise them. If we stand against this mosque, this will simply add to this message. If our goal is to love Muslims and share the good news of Christ with them, then let's welcome them into our neighborhoods. Let's invite them over for dinner. Let's show them what real, Christlike love is.

Why should a mosque be a threat to us? Are we afraid that we will convert to Islam? I would hope not.

Are we scared that Sharia law might take hold in this country? We shouldn't fear what man can do to us. The worst that can happen is that we get killed, and Paul has told us that to die is gain.

Are we afraid that lost people will increasingly turn to Islam? If that is the case, then we should start sharing the gospel more urgently and passionately.

One key question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are going to be driven in our decision making by American citizenship or heavenly citizenship. Which matters more to us?

In general, we have failed to make the active distinction between being Christians and being Americans. One clear sign of this is the American flags that hang all over our church buildings in this country. We too often try to mix the two. We even still refer to the USA as a "Christian nation."

This is not a Christian nation - whatever that is. We live in a secular state that will always have political arguments.

Jesus Christ did not call us to political involvement. He called us to radical, sacrificial discipleship and servanthood. He called us to love others even unto death. After all, that's what He did for us.

We should be asking how God would have us think of this mosque. Quite honestly, I don't think God cares much about another building. I do think He cares about the Muslims who might attend the mosque. God's plan to reach them is for us followers of Christ to love them, build relationships with them, and share the good news of Christ with them.

They won't see our love if we spend our time protesting against their mosque. As Christians we have better things to do than spend lots of energy on politics. Instead, let's stop worrying about a building, and start figuring out how we can love the Muslims in our communities.

12 comments:

Jason_73 said...

Amen, Amen, Amen, and Amen.

And I will apply this same principal to the emails my family and a member from my church recently sent me about the president being a Muslim.

Eric said...

Jason,

I'm amazed and saddened at how Christians simply adopt cultural ideas about what should and shouldn't be. We need to think biblically, not culturally.

Arthur Sido said...

It is a pity that these things even have to be said but someone has to say them in the name of Christ. Thanks for stating the unpopular position that there is no Biblical reason to oppose this mosque. I just hope that muslims who need to hear Christ realize that Frankling Graham and Newt Gingrich do not speak for the Body of Christ on this matter.

Kimberlee said...

THANK YOU!!! As a follower of Christ preparing to move to a nation of Muslims, I've been studying a lot about how to love them, reach the, and contextualize the gospel for them, and you hit it all right on the nail! It's so encouraging to hear other believers in this country living biblically, not culturally, so thank you!

Eric said...

Arthur,

It's so true that many speak loudly in biblical ignorance. How I wish Christians would stop thinking like Republicans and start thinking like Christ.

Eric said...

Kimberlee,

May God bless you as you love Muslims and share the good news. It is wonderful what you are doing.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

In one of our large cities a Baptist church wants to build a four thousand seat church. In the same street, several hundred yards away, Muslims want to build a mosque, which I believe will hold about two thousand.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you who is making a big noise about the other!

Eric said...

John,

Why do we Christians fall prey so easily to thinking according to our culture? I know I fail this way at times.

I'm tired of Christians acting like they hate Muslims. I'm also tired of Christians acting surprised when others do not like them.

Patricia said...

Eric, you have said it better, by the grace of our LORD Jesus, than any I have heard. Thank you so much for being who you are: a true follower of the LORD and His holy Word, our guidebook for life.

Eric said...

Patricia,

Thank you for your kind words. My hope is that we followers of Christ will look to His word to determine how to think and act instead of defaulting to cultural norms. Let's keep loving others in the hopes that many will come to know Him.

Jeffrey said...

Eric,

I don't like your position on this topic. I want my right to fight against these people taking advantage of our tolerance, and using it as a weapon against us. I want to tell you that you're wrong...but of course you're right. I have to change my attitude on this issue, but it won't happen easily. God will have to continue the work he began. Darn, I want this Christian walk to be easier!

Jeff

Eric said...

Jeff,

I agree. In my gut, I don't like it either. However, we have to let the bible inform all our decision making - even in areas like this. Not easy...