Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Koran Burning and the Great Commission

The Christian life is really not that complicated. It is difficult, to be sure, but not complicated (in the sense of being difficult to understand). God has saved His church to glorify Him. We do this through striving to live holy lives and loving our neighbors, whoever they may be.

Jesus has commissioned His followers - us - to make disciples of all nations. We can do this most effectively when we go to and love people who would hate, harm, and even kill us. This is what Jesus did, giving us His primary example. We certainly cannot die for anyone else's sins, but we can take the good news to people who (at least at first) do not want it.

As we all know, the largest religious group in the world that does not know Jesus Christ is the followers of Islam. Right now, there are many wonderful Christian missionaries from all over the world trying to reach Muslims in some very difficult places. Many of these missionaries have sacrificed greatly to be where they are. Many see little fruit because the soil is so hard. Alice and I personally know several different families and individuals who have left the comfort of the USA behind in order to take the gospel to the people of the Middle East and beyond.

To sum up the obvious: the work is very difficult.

In light of all this, the upcoming Koran burning in Florida is only going to make it more difficult to reach Muslims with the gospel. Please let me be clear: this Koran burning is evil and foolish beyond measure. I write this not because I believe the Koran is true (it isn't). I write it because one Koran-burning-party like this can cause all kinds of damage to the Christian witness here in the USA and overseas.

Let's say a Christian missionary has been living a holy life and loving his neighbors in a place like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, or Somalia. Maybe he has been able to build friendships, gain trust, and even explain the gospel to some Muslims where he is. When these Muslims watch on September 11th as "Christians" burn Korans, what will they think of their Christian missionary friend? Even if they are interested in Christ, they may be even more fearful than ever to say so.

It is one thing to preach and teach that the Bible is true and the Koran is not. We must speak the truth. However, we must also do so in love. We tell people the Koran is false out of love for them and in the hope that they will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Burning Korans shows nothing but hatred and, I believe, pushes Muslims farther away from the truth.

I remember about five years ago being on a mission trip to Jaipur, India. Several of us engaged a Muslim man in conversation. He was polite and cordial. He was not a devout Muslim, but he was Islamic nonetheless. We returned to his shop the next day and presented him with a Bible. We told him a bit about what it teaches. This man, who probably does not believe much of the Bible is true, set the Bible on the top shelf in his office. He did this out of respect for us and for the Bible.

What a contrast: A Muslim man showing respect to a Bible compared with "Christians" burning Korans.

I am greatly saddened by what is going to happen on September 11th.

On September 11th, 2001, many people died on a tragic day. However, in God's sovereignty and providence, this seemed to open doors of conversation and ultimately for the gospel. My fear is that the Koran burning on September 11th, 2010 many close doors for the gospel. If nothing else, Christian missionaries may find their mission fields' soil even harder come September 12th.

We followers of Jesus must loudly denounce this Koran burning. Let us speak the truth in love, but let us speak loudly so at least some Muslims will know that not all Christians agree with this sort of hateful activity.

4 comments:

Aussie John said...

Eric,

My sentiments exactly!

It is my conviction that hyper-fundamentalism, no matter whether so-called "Christian" or Muslim has the same father,
"You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

micah7 said...

I wish I could plead with this pastor not to do this. Not only is this going to hinder the Gospel, but it could very well result in lives being lost. General Petreaus believes that this action is putting American troops at risk and there has already been a demonstration of protest in Kabul at just the rumor of this happening.

I don't see hoe any Christian can read the Sermon on the Mount and think it is a good idea to burn Qurans. "Blessed are the peacemakers." This is not making peace, this is a blatant attempt to offend Muslims and they have already succeeded at that.

Eric said...

John,

I agree. These folks in Florida remind me very much of Pharisees. They claim to know the Lord, but act in hatred instead of love.

Eric said...

Micah,

Hi! I hope everything is going well for you at SBTS. Any job possibilities so far?

You are so right about the Sermon on the Mount. Christ calls us to respond differently than the world would in almost all situations in life. These people in Gainesville are simply acting like the world. Maybe they want attention or something. Regardless, they probably think they are righteously taking a stand for the truth and facing persecution for doing it. Instead, they are just shaming the gospel.