The response of the church towards those who attacked America on 9/11, particularly the radical, Muslim extremists, must be grounded in Luke 6, particularly verses 21-36. The message of the Sermon on the Mount is a counter cultural call to love those who most vehemently hate us, and who even attack us. The response of the Christian to the attacks of 9/11 must be an aggressive campaign of love and mercy extended to those who most aggressively hate Christianity and Christians. As we have been “struck on the cheek” it is time for us to expose “the other cheek” as we reach out, befriend, display the love of Christ and communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims around the world, and anyone else who might “hate” us. For too many Christians and Christian churches, since 9/11, we have been known for our aggressive anger towards Muslims. All too often this seems to be grounded in fear over what they might “do to us”. This is completely antithetical to the message of Jesus. We are supposed to expose ourselves to danger, at risk, as we aggressively love those who are most unloving toward us.
This must be a real commitment, not just a theoretical one. I am writing this article, in advance, and so for our church, this means that I am leaving tomorrow to head to two countries which are massively Muslim (95%+), as our church tries to think through the implications of living out Jesus’ call to radically love the Muslim world. We will be establishing a new partnership to work on a consistent basis with this area of the world. We must be committed to genuine friendships with others who are not like us, who may disagree with us in respect to our theology. I am grateful for friendships I have with men and women who embrace Islam. We may disagree, and we may disagree strongly, but as a follower of Christ I am less than faithful if I cannot be gracious, and extend love, to those who I would disagree most with.
These kind of steps, and much more, must become the regular, and consistent pattern, of the Christian church.
*For a post thinking through a Christian response to the death of Osama bin Laden, click here.