Someone told me of a recent twitter to CNN that said, “Nazis burn books not Christians!” Of course, the tweet came in the midst of the Florida pastor’s on again, off again plan to burn copies of the Qur’an. “Nazis burn books not Christians!”
It’s a great tweet and sound bite, in a way. But it misses a more important point. The Nazis claimed and sadly enjoyed the sanctions of the church. To much of the world, in fact, when the Nazis burned the books Christians struck the match.
Today that is the impression much of the world has of our way of life as Christ-followers. And still more sadly, that is the way we Christians are leading such people to think about Christ our Lord. We Christians become complicit in slandering the name and nature of Jesus Christ when some of us in His name burn books that others consider holy.
Thus, the true follower of Jesus the Christ will abhor what the Florida pastor proposes. To burn the Qur’an as he proposes slanders the name of Jesus. To burn the Qur’an violates the spirit of Jesus and the teaching of Jesus—do to others what you would have them do to you (we would be grieved and shocked if Muslim people burned the Bible!); love those who hate you or insist on being your enemies (love does not fight fire with fire); pray for those who persecute you or oppose you (who discerns the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a deed?) and the list goes on and on.
To burn the Qur’an as our pastor friends has considered doing violates the mission of Jesus. If Jesus came not to condemn the pagan and unbelieving world, why are some of us doing just that? Jesus condemned some folk, but they were not the “pagans,” but the people who claimed his Father as their God, the people who actually killed Jesus in the name of his Father! But there's no hint whatsoever that Jesus found fault with the teachings or doctrines of other religions. Rather, Jesus announced the good news and then demonstrated enough of its reality that people flocked to him. Why can’t the church do it Jesus’ way? Why can’t the church follow its head—Jesus?
To burn the Qur’an as our pastor friend suggests violates the mission of Jesus in another way. Around the world the Spirit of Jesus is calling many people who are Muslim in culture to become followers of Jesus. It is even happening in the U.S. Many stories could be told. To burn the Qur’an is to disarm Jesus’ apostles to the Muslim world who seek to lead people to him from within their Muslim cultures. To burn the Qur’an is to arm some within the Muslim cultures with “evidence” that Jesus’ way is simply a disguise for the Western world’s corrupt values and practices. And to burn the Qur’an is to place Jesus’ apostles to the Muslim world in danger. If some Christians in the U.S. burn copies of the Qur’an today, perhaps as a result some Muslims burn live Christians somewhere else in the world. The blood of both the persecuted and the persecuters are on such “Christian” hands!
Friends, it is simply wrong in every way. Followers of Christ would sooner burn themselves than participate in slandering the Name and subverting the Spirit and Mission of Jesus.
Followers of Christ should encourage the reading of the Qur’an, and especially the sections that speak of Jesus and that admonish its readers to follow and practice the teachings of Jesus (which the Qur’an does) and then should be ready to step up and say to anyone who would listen, “Say, would you like to know more about this Jesus of whom your Holy Book speaks?”
Followers of Christ, let’s step up. Let’s ask this kind of question. Let’s trust what the Holy Spirit is doing. Let’s complement and contribute to the mission Jesus has going among people everywhere, including in Muslim communities.
Let’s follow Jesus!