Love Your Enemy

Last night I had the privilege of meeting a young man who is Rohingya. His father is Muslim, his grandfather is Muslim, his relatives are all Muslim. He himself has a doctorate degree in Islamic studies.

In 2012 the people of Rakhine state attacked and killed the Rohingya people, burning villages to the ground. You may have heard about it in the news. Go ahead and look it up if you haven't. I'll wait. Try searching Rohingya Massacre 2012.

This man was contacted by a Christian organization who asked him to help coordinate the delivery of relief supplies to his people.

He was shocked. He didn't understand why Christians would want to help his people.

They told him about Jesus, in a contextually appropriate way, and he started telling hundreds of other people about this Jesus person BEFORE he decided to be baptized as a Christian himself.

He now travels around teaching people about Jesus and receives death threats regularly because people don't like what he does. He says that if you want to be a good Muslim you should follow Jesus.

But the point I want to make here is that this man would never have even considered following Jesus if Christians hadn't reached out in mercy to help his people while they were still Muslims.

I see a lot of people that identify as Christians who are comfortable speaking about Muslims in ways that are dehumanizing and full of fear. They talk about the threat of terrorism, the threat of Muslims taking over and establishing Sharia law.  They are worried about their safety and the safety of their children. I get it. I know what it's like to be afraid. I also know that it's not a good place to stay in and act out of.

Recently someone I know posted a meme that said, "The pope just told Christians that they should love Muslims. Why doesn't he go to Iraq and tell Muslims to love Christians."

It seems to me that His Holiness might be remembering the words of Jesus a little more accurately than his haters. You know,
Luke 6:27But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.
32If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Mat 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,

If Muslims really are the enemy, which I am not at all convinced that they are, many Christians are going about this all wrong.

Think about it.

Do you love Muslims? Do you pray for them? Do you go out of your way to find things you can do to help Muslims in need? Because that's how Christians are commanded to treat their enemies. I know many, many people who claim to follow Jesus and are doing exactly that.

If you identify as Christian could you please explain to me why it's ok for you to allow fear to keep you from mercy? Your faith is in a man who was homeless, and who willingly walked toward brutal death because of love, because of redemption. Jesus set the example in self sacrifice.

The heroes of the Christian faith were martyred, imprisoned, and persecuted all over the globe because of their deep faith in Jesus. Did they stop spreading the gospel when it got hard? Did they stop obeying God when their lives, and the lives of their children, were threatened?

If you are claiming to be a Christian and your primary concern is preserving your Christian way of life and your Christian culture as the dominant culture then you are likely missing the point. You have lost track of what the gospel means and what you are supposed to be doing with it.

If we want to win the "culture war" we have to remember to be people who live and breath mercy. We must to be the kind of people that look like Jesus in our actions and daily life, who love until it hurts, who sacrifice for people who are our enemies.

Jesus didn't promise comfort and safety. He promised a cross.

May I ask why you are fighting so hard for comfort and safety? Is that really the Christian thing to do? What would Jesus do I wonder?
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