IT WASN’T REALLY ABOUT THE MOSQUE OR COMMUNITY CENTER OR …

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Lots of feedback on the Mosque article.  But here’s the bottom line, we must decide whether we are really serious, as in lay it on the line, hoist cross on shoulders, follow all the way he leads, even if it leads to where he ended up.  We will  either seek to protect ourselves (the very opposite of salvation by grace through faith, by the way—at whatever phase of believing life you happen to be!) and our name and our reputation and our … whatever, or we will spend ourselves in confident trust that in so doing there will be "finding" that blows our wildest imaginations.  If it makes any difference we do have Jesus’ word on it.

So the point in the article was much larger than building a physical structure at or near ground zero.  The point is we must “redeem the time” (see Eph. 5:16 is where the idea is found).  But that meant something quite different to Paul than is popularly understood.  It doesn’t simply mean, “Mind your p’s and q’s because the time is short and Jesus is soon to  come!”  It means we use our time redemptively.  It means we look for inroads which redeeming grace may take straight to the heart of people or the center of groups or the focal point of some process or dynamic.  It means that we choose our battles well—we don’t spend most of our time, energy, and Jesus’ reputation arguing about who is right or how they are wrong, but demonstrating the way of Jesus.  Jesus’ way wasn’t through argument, though of course on occasion he confounded those who challenged him and his positions (as should we on occasion). His way was through declaration—I am the way, the truth and the life … he said; in the context of a life that brought precisely that way, reality and life into the light for all to see.  If the light does not shine, it isn’t light.  If the way won’t work, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about it.  And, if it’s not real, authentic, it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows.  But if it IS, if HE IS, then bring it on, and those at all open will embrace his way with joy. 

So, back to Ground Zero, a lot of people want to fight about this, just as many wish to fight over anything that arouses interest or that could become part of someone's ideological arsenal.  But Christ followers must be smarter than that.  We must not be suckered into thinking that we can play by their rules and win kingdom victories.  Such ends never justify such means.

Instead, let’s trust the Christ we follow to show us how to respond in redemptive ways.  Let’s seek ways to put him on display.  Let’s show Jesus to people on all sides of the controversy.  Jesus does not hate.  Jesus does not fight fire with fire.  Jesus does say here are the things that matter.  Come and see how and why they matter.  Let’s walk awhile and see what happens.  What’s to lose?  Just come and see. That’s how it began and when empowered by the Spirit of Jesus that’s basically how it spread from just a few to a world-wide presence in an historical blink of the eye.

So, church, let’s embrace our redemption in Christ, realizing that it is so comprehensive that it also includes time itself.  And let’s make every moment count, especially those moments when a lot of people are paying attention who will invariably make minor things major and major things minor, unless Someone shows them better.  We are the ones through whom Someone works.

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    Thanks so much for your sane and Christ-honoring perspective. After a month in Malawi I find the hyper-angry tone among so many including some brothers and sisters in Christ to be very troubling and detrimental to the real business we are about. Thanks for reminding us that we are not against Muslims but for Christ! For years I have tried to remind people to ask Jesus-questions not just American or political questions about the issues of our day.
    By the way, I stumbled on to this by accident in a newsletter from Phyllis Sortor. How can I get this regularly?
    Mark Abbott

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