Saturday, April 2, 2011

feel the burn (the qur'an aflame)

You've probably heard the news by now. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Qur'an (Islam's holy book) last September but changed his mind (check my previous post,, changed his mind again and followed through with his threat earlier this week. Unfortunately, his decision triggered a response from Muslims in Afghanistan. A NATO base was attacked and three rebels were killed. This came after a U.N. compound was besieged by hundreds protesting the burning by Jones. The storming of the facility left at least 11 people, seven of them foreigners, dead. And two of those foreigners were beheaded in the attack.

Jones says he bears no responsibility for the actions of Muslims on the other side of the world. That he's sorry and he regrets their response, but that he was simply speaking truth as he understands it and was exercising his freedom of speech.  And, at least according to many sentiments, there are many who either agree with his actions, or defend what he did in the face of the repressive nature of Islam.

Jones, and those like him, have the right to speak as they feel led. That's protected in our country- something not afforded to all people in our world. But just because Jones can do something like he did, should he?   
Jones may not see himself responsible for what overzealous people in another country did, but that doesn't absolve him. He may see himself free to say and do as he pleases, but that doesn't mean he has no boundaries or limits. With freedom comes responsibility, understanding that our actions have the power to impact people for good or for bad. Therefore, we must weigh carefully what we say and do, because we really do influence those around us (and even those around the world).

The passage of Scripture that kept rolling around in my head last night regarding all this is 1 Corinthians 10:23,24- "Everything is permissible"- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"- but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Paul's words tell us that just because we can does NOT mean we should. That we've got to consider the power of our lives because they really do matter. Jones may not see himself as part of the Afghan situation, but he does share responsibility and culpability in the deaths of those U.N. workers- his actions touched off a firestorm that consumed far more than paper and ink.

As long as we keep acting the way people around us act, they won't see Jesus in us, but only reflection of themselves. And that's just not good enough. As long as we burn books, lash out and condemn, we look remarkably like our adversaries. So why would they join our ranks if there's no measurable difference between our actions and theirs? I'm not saying that we never make a stand for what's right; but that we make sure our words, our attitudes, our actions tell those opposed to us that we're guided and motivated by a God who loved them so much he chose to offer his son as a sacrifice for their sins. That he craves a relationship with them. And that his concern for them can be seen, felt and understood...through us. It's hard to burn someone's holy book if you really care about the people of that book.

Hmm, come to think of it, maybe that's why it's so easy for some to strike a match.


Joe said...

Hey Mike!

Great post. You hit the nail on the head with:

"As long as we keep acting the way people around us act, they won't see Jesus in us, but only reflection of themselves."

That is the issue at it's core.

Did Jesus have the ability to wipe out His enemies when He walked our earth? You bet! Did Jesus have the ability to remove Himself from the cross and avoid all that suffering? Sure.

But did He? No. While Jesus had all the capabilities He chose not to use any of them unless it was for good: to heal, to help, etc.

Burning a Koran does nothing to help anyone. All it does is inflame and--as we've witnessed--brings harm to others.

It's amazing to think how much good that church could have done if they would have chosen to fast and pray--a sacrifice for them--for Muslims rather than burn the Koran.

See you soon!


mike carman said...

Thanks, Joe. insightful, as always. It's so much easier to tear down than to build- that's probably why we're so much better at it!