Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive." I Corinthians 10:23
Barbara and I are home after a few days of sun, sand and surf. It was restful and relaxing but we are glad to be home!
Traveling home we heard the story of the pastor in Florida who is planning to burn Korans this Saturday to protest Islam on the Anniversary of 9-11-2001.
His announcement of this plan has raised a storm of protest around the world. It has been strongly criticized and condemned by generals, Presidents, clergymen the Attorney General, news networks, newsmen and commentators. Yet, the pastor remains undeterred in his plans.
Does he have a legal right to do this? Absolutely! No doubt!
Does he have the religious freedom to burn these books? Sure!
Is it a good idea? Does it glorify God or commend the Christian faith?
Not in my opinion. I don't think it makes him or his church or his faith look very good. I don't think it reflects the spirit of Christ. This is not something Jesus would do.
Am I sympathetic to Islam? Not at all! Do I believe the Koran is a holy book on par with the Bible? No way!
But it is a book held sacred by billions of people and why antognize these people for the sake of a publicity stunt? There is nothing positive that can come from that. Why give radical terrorists an excuse to terrorize? This action will cause people to die and place our soldiers in greater risk in the Middle East.
This brings to mind the mosque controversary near ground zero. The same principle applies to those who are promoting this project.
Do they have the religious freedom to do this? Yes.
Are they given the constitutional right to build this building? Certainly.
Does building this mosque at this sensitive site that offend a significant number of people? Indeed!
Does persisting in this unpopular and offensive plan cast their Muslim faith in a favorable light? Not really. Does it promote more positive relationships with Christianity and Judaism? No.
Paul reminded the believers at the Corinthian church that they should focus on their responsibilities rather than their rights when it comes to relating to others of faith. In the immediate context he is referring to other Christians, but the principle applies to those of other faiths, as well. As Christians, we are to be willingly to surrender our rights for the sake of developing relationships of faith. Operate under the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law for the sake of fellowship - for the cause of Christ.
Anyone who would oppose the mosque but would support this Florida pastor would be disingenuous and hypocritical.
Both the New York Imam and the Florida pastor are displaying a callous disregard for the virtues they claim to embrace. Obviously, the pastor is more culpable than the Imam because he should be guided by the Word of God while the Imam is devoted to the writings of Mohammed.
Let's pray that both of these men have second thoughts and choose a more responsible course that will not needlessly provoke violence and cause great offense.
The principle for you in all of this is this: do you cling selfishly to your rights or are you more determined to do what is right for your faith and your God?