Saturday, September 11, 2010

burn, baby, burn

One of the mantras I remember from the '60s (besides the title of this blog) was the encouragement to "do what comes naturally." That advice seemed to fit the counter-culture revolution of its day. But it also appears to follow us today.Take the situation in Florida, in which a church pastor planned to have a Qur'an-burning day on 9/11. By now we've all heard the story, the debate, the outrage and the ridicule surrounding the event. At this point, the bonfire has been called off. That's good...but I'm bothered by the attitudes connected with the whole thing, especially among those who claim to be Christ-followers.

To begin with, I sense an overblown confusion among many between nationalism and faith. Added to that is a "natural" feeling of fairness, justice and rightness. I hear many (including voices within me) proclaim that Muslims have no compunction over burning our holy book, mistreating our people, or disrespecting our beliefs. Therefore, it's right (natural) to return the same attitude and action to them. I read a story about Bibles belonging to servicemen meant for distribution in Iraq that were confiscated and burned by the US military last year. A representative from a Christian defense organization was quoted as saying that to be fair and just, we should count up the number of Bibles destroyed, collect that many Qur'ans and burn them. Then we'd be even.

Now, that's a normal response. That's doing what comes naturally. Problem is, those of us who claim to walk in the steps of Jesus are NOT called to walk naturally. If we burn Qur'ans for Bibles, we' re living eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Not only would we all end up blind and toothless, but Jesus told us that we're expected to respond differently (Matt. 5:39). Not naturally. And if we refuse to love Muslims because we see them as the enemy (here's where being American and being Christian becomes conflicted for some), then we're no different than anyone else acting naturally. Jesus told us that we must love those opposed to us, and pray for them (Matt. 5:44-49).

It's easy (it's natural) to stand against anyone we see as a threat. I understand that. To resist them, to resent them, to oppose them. I get that. But how many Muslims (or anyone else, for that matter) are we praying for? How many have we made the effort to share with, to get to know, to love? If that idea grates against you, that's OK- it's natural. To be able to embrace such a concept is something far beyond natural. It's supernatural. And it takes to power of One within us to make it happen.

I don't expect those not following Christ to walk such a path. It's far too unnatural for most. But those of us who say that our allegiance is beyond this world are bound to back it up by our example. Are we to be concerned for our people? Sure. Stand up for injustice? Absolutely. Protect freedom? In a heartbeat. Love those who don't love us?

Only if you want to do what comes supernaturally.

No comments: