Category Archives: world faiths
The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011. The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.
At the onset of the news, I was so excited. I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military. I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them. I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit. I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.
Then I woke up Monday morning. I felt different. I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right. My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American. Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead? How would Jesus have responded?” I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.
I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day. I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions. I have read the arguments. I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people). I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.
Here is where I land |
I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!
I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.
I am happy about that.
I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.
I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other. Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with. From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again! Praise God for that.
I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!
What do you think?
I’m not a big fan of Lent. I guess partly because it seems to be more of a tradition than a life changing experience for some people. I can be skeptical that way. For those who find Lent to be a life-changing, bring you closer to Christ holiday, I fully support you.
For me though, I like to focus on this final week. The last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This is the week leading up to Easter, the holiday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. So this week is an important week. With this final week in mind I want to ask, are you doing anything special? By that I mean; are you fasting from anything? Are you giving up any “extras” like chocolate, soda, meat or cigarettes, in preparation for this most sacred of Christian holidays?
I only ask because I’m curious about how you celebrate the Holy Week!
Maybe you never thought about giving something up this week. That’s cool. Maybe you could do that this year. Start now and give something up that you love between now and Sunday. You can give up anything you want, the only requirement (in my opinion) is that it be something you love. For me, it might be Dr. Pepper. I say might because I’m not super convinced of my willpower over the ever tasty, DP. But maybe you want to consider giving something up this week and replacing it with time to focus on Christ’s final week.
For instance, let’s use TV as an example. Instead of watching TV at your normal times, you might choose to spend that time in prayer and meditation, focusing on Christ’s final week. Maybe you are giving up a specific meal or type of food that you eat regularly. Instead of indulging in that meal or type of food, you indulge yourself on the Word of God. These are just some ideas. Either way, maybe you want to give something up this week to focus more on Christ.
If you decide to do this, or if you already do, let me know about it in the comment section below. I would love to hear all about it.
In the meantime, here is a great Scripture from the final week of Jesus’ ministry.
Luke 21:1-4 (NLT)- “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
The images of 9/11 still haunt many Americans today. Families were forever changed as loved ones were taken away from this life without regret or care. News travels quickly about the attack on United States soil. President Bush is at an elementary school as children read from a book when he receives the news. I am in a class with Professor Reese as Professor Schantz sticks his head in the classroom, quickly interrupting and asking that we come and watch the television because the United States is under attack. Our entire college meets after watching the horrifying events unfold in the gymnasium. We all sit together, most of us crying. Some crying out of fear for what might happen next. Some crying for the lives that have just been lost. Some crying because the emotion of over 100 students, staff and faculty are all holding hands and crying together is just too much. The scene is impacting and makes an everlasting imprint on your memory.
As details begin to unfold in the following days, names of the terrorist hijackers are released. They all have one thing in common. They are Islamic extremists.
They are bent on death.
On what they call their “Jihad.”
I must admit that I do not have a firm understanding of the Islamic faith, but have a deep desire to learn more about them. To understand more about their faith and what drives them to be who they are. I see Muslim families periodically in different towns I visit. Not in my small town here in Illinois, but in bigger places like Springfield, St. Louis or Indianapolis. As I have been honest with myself, I have come to realize that the people who call themselves Muslims, the people who practice the faith of Islam, they are in our culture. They are a part of us. They are a part of the United States of America.
Many were born here.
They are citizens.
And I know very little about them.
While almost every group, race or gender has certain stereotypes they carry, I think none are greater than the stereotypes that have been attached to Muslims. Within Christianity, there are extremists. They hold bull-horns and protest signs. They preach hell and damnation at funerals of dead soldiers. They march in “Crusades,” killing anyone with a different perspective. They are bent on nothing but destruction, the tearing down of anyone who disagrees with them.
They thrive on war.
They live for debate.
They wallow in hate and misery.
They do it in the name of their “Jihad.”
As I have contemplated the idea of “Coffeehouse Christianity,” I have pondered many topics for dialogue. One that has continually come to mind is the chance to open up a dialogue between leaders of the Islamic faith in our country and leaders of the Christian faith in our country.
Bring them together.
Sit them down.
Side by side.
Not to lob dogmatic bombs at each other from our separate corners, but to come to the middle and talk. I believe that the Christian and Islamic faiths are different in many aspects. The biggest difference, and the very topic that I believe will keep us from ever seeing eye-to-eye completely is the issue of the Divinity of Jesus. Christians believe Jesus was Divine, the God-man. Fully God and fully man at the same time and that the entire Old Testament points to Him. God’s entire plan was meant to lead to Jesus Christ. Muslims hold Jesus in high regard as a prophet, but do not hold to his Divinity. For them, Mohammed was the last of the prophets, God’s final revelation was given to him. This is a major division between the two faiths.
I had the chance to sit down at a dialogue between members of our community, some with Christian backgrounds, and the special guests from Springfield, who were Muslims. We were able to ask them questions, to hear from them, to sit and talk without dogmatically abusing each other. Myy eyes were not opened to what they would consider to be the truth of Islam, but they were opened to the fact that they are people.
Their hands are the same as mine. Their eyes are the same as mine. They want a great life for their kids, as I do mine. They want a happy life here in America, as do I. It is my firm belief that if followers of Christ wish to make any progress with people of Islamic faith. We must come away from their media sound bytes and email forwards that do nothing but preach hatred toward Muslims. We must get to know people who hold to the Islamic faith on a personal level.
Shake their hands.
When did Jesus ever reach someone by destroying bridges and sending hateful email forwards? When did Jesus reach someone by calling them “terrorists” and ignoring them? It is my understanding of His life and ministry that He never did. Not once. He reached them through His love.
Ate with them.
Why aren’t the followers of Christ, the followers of His example, doing the same with an entire faith of people that live among us? Maybe it’s time for the followers of Christ to do the same. Maybe it’s time for Christian leaders to lead the way in bridging the gap with people of Islamic faith. Is it possible for us to blend the same love and understanding that Jesus had for the people and culture of His day with the true message of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament? Is this a divide that followers of Christ think simply can’t be bridged? Is it a bridge worth building? I say yes. What do you say?
This video has been used in FBI sensitivity training. I would like to get your thoughts on it as well.