Two political commentators were speaking about the Middle East crisis of ISIS. They were making the distinction between Islam and Christianity and that the former was a religion of peace and the latter responsible for all kinds of atrocities: homophobia, slavery, white supremacy, abortion clinic bombings, and the suppression of women's rights. They obviously haven't been exposed to Islamic cultures.
A young Muslim friend of mine posted yesterday on Facebook "Islam is perfect, People aren't." It is an attempt to distance what is happening with ISIS from her faith. She is a sweet young college student from the Filipines and it is understandable for her to ignore all the violence from conservative Muslims in her own country and around the world. It is difficult to see the horror that is done in the name of your god when you couldn't imagine doing it yourself.
As Christians we are constantly apologizing for such acts throughout history that have been done in the name of Christ. We know that violence isn't the method by which we have been called to spread the Kingdom of God. We realize that those who perpetrate hate, bigotry, and discrimination have forgotten our duty to love all people as children of God. We understand that the world is constantly looking for reasons to hate us and we at time overcompensate so they won't. It is also true that the church has done far more to alleviate the suffering of the world then it has to harm it.
The world doesn't need any other reason to hate us than the gospel, and when we live the gospel we will be hated all the more. Our responsibility isn't to apologize or placate the world. Our responsibility is to walk as children of the light. The church isn't called to force people to submission to outward morality, but rather to bear fruit keeping with righteousness. Jesus said they (the world) will know us by our fruit as we love one another.
As we walk in light we will exhibit what is good, right, and true. It won't be popular. We will look old fashion. The church will be chided as being irrelevant and unprogressive. We will be ostracized, sued, laughed at, and scorned, just because we choose to live lives consistent with the light. As we choose to walk the path set out before us in Christ we will be able to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
My neighbor, Redneck Rick, has a very skewed understanding of the bible. He is an ardent believer in the book of Revelation, though I am not sure he has ever read it. The Middle East and Ebola are examples of the end times, and if we don't believe it we are going to be really "F*** up". He doesn't go to church and doesn't believe you have to to be a
Christian. In fact, he said, you can be a Christian and use the F word.
It is tempting to see his slightly inebriated state, his foul language, and his skewed view of moral living as the problem. If I can just clean him up then he would be pleasing to God. But that is the difference between Islam and Christianity. Islam forces people to be good in order for God to accept them. Christianity knows that the heart needs to change and that it can only happen through the working of the gospel. The first looks good, everyone running around doing the right things, but unless the heart is changed outward conformity will eventually degenerate into immorality.
We are to walk as children of light not to become children of light. We are to live out the inward reality of the Holy Spirit's work, and as children of light, constantly look for ways to please the Lord, and what pleases Him?
Duet. 10:18, "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing."
We know that we are pleasing to God when we find ways to love others, do good to those who persecute us, and offer hope to those who hate us. How are you walking today? I'm just saying...
Ephesians 5:8b-10 "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."