We know what Sarah Palin would say (against) about the proposed Mosque near the site of the 911 tragedy. We know what President Obama would say (for the most part for). We know what a host of media pundits, New York politicians, and religious leaders would say (all over the place). We know what the polls say (majority against), but what would Jesus say? Here are some possibilities…
1) “The only way to the Father is through me, I am the way the truth and the life. I have come that your joy might be full.” (Quoted from the Gospel of John). I think it is wise to state this upfront. I (Dan) am fully committed to the centrality of Christ…for life. I deeply desire for Muslims to discover and know and love the Jesus I have discovered, know and love. Just like I deeply desire those with a Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu religious worldview.
2) “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” (Quoted from the Gospel of Matthew). This one may not fit quite as well but I think it it is a reminder that Jesus seemed to have somewhat of a submissive attitude toward the lawful rules of the land. (Paul details this attitude more in Romans.) I don’t think it’s because Jesus didn’t care. Jesus cares about every area of society including the socio-political. But he calls us to invest in the primary life-giving, strategies of the Big Kingdom (of God)…not the little kingdoms (of this world). (
3) “Out battle is not against flesh and blood…” I know these are not Jesus’ words, they are Paul’s, (Quoted from Ephesians) but my thoughts on the inspiration of scripture lead me to believe that Jesus would agree. For those Christians who are concerned about the spread of the Muslim religious world-view, for those Christians who are deeply passionate for all people to find life and joy, truth and peace, our battle is not against people, it is for people. It is a spiritual battle and when we fight spiritual battles with secular weapons we lose. If this issue sparks your heart it should lead you to prayer, long before it leads you to politics.
4) The pathway to greatness is service, lived out — at least in part — in the act of loving our neighbors and loving our enemies. (Jesus message found in all the gospels.) I realize that this issue, at least in some measure is more political than it is Christian. But I think Jesus would ask those who are His followers to make sure that our responses to this issue are shaped by love and served up with a servant’s heart.
5) Mercy triumphs over judgement and those who sow words of peace will reap a harvest of righteousness. (Words from James the brother of Jesus.) Could this be an opportunity for us to show mercy and sow words of peace?
I realize this is a complicated issue. I lived in New York City for a period of time, Lynn has relatives who have grown up in New York City. I know people who lost people in the 911 tragedy. There are no easy answers, but there are choices. We choose how we will respond. This is an opportunity for Christians to respond as peace-makers and mercy-givers and truth-lovers and servant-hearted neighbor-lovers. I hope we do.