I tend to think that burning things is a bad idea. So like Shane and David and countless others, I believe the plans of Florida preacher Terry Jones to burn the Quran on Saturday, September 11th is abhorrent. I wonder, when has burning something whether it be books, flags or people represented a reasonable argument or proven a valid point.

I would prefer to celebrate the bravery of our troops and honor the fallen as I recall the events of 9/11. But my heart is heavy as I read the headlines today. Sadly, it’s not enough for one radical preacher to announce his intentions to burn the holy book of Islam. No, this blind guide has given steam to at least three other groups of wackos who plan to follow his lead.

I find it difficult to believe that these people who profess to be Christians are reading the same Bible that I am. Only today my children and I were discussing this scripture.

 

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.                       1 Corinthians 10:23-24

 

While we as Americans are free to do many things, not everything that we would choose to do is beneficial to us or to our neighbors. Do we demonstrate the love of Christ when we show disrespect for those who disagree with us? Have we done anything more than create a stumbling block between them and Christ?

My kids asked me this morning, “What is a stumbling block?” As I explained how our words and actions can get in someone’s way and cause them to trip, my four-year-old piped up and said, “Oh, so we don’t want to make someone fall, but if they do fall we want to help them up, right!”  My ten-year-old agreed, “Yeah, like the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’m glad they get it!

 Jesus said,

You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  Matthew 5:43-44

 

We are afforded a number of freedoms enumerated by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but there is a point at which we can abuse those freedoms by acting foolishly. They may still be our freedoms to exercise, but is it really wise to do so?

These individuals, who are planning a “holy” book burning, are standing proudly on the First Amendment and their own misguided indignation. And though they do not represent most Christians there are many Muslims who may never know that. The actions of these radical church groups, while their right by law, besmirches the name of Jesus and the Church at large.

The preacher who stirred this whole pot to begin with said he wants to send a message. But his message is already clear in the mind of Muslims. You disrespect us and our God. This is the only attention he will get. Nothing else this preacher says good or bad will be heard. 

These groups might have had a smaller audience but gained much greater traction by praying for those with whom they disagree and by speaking the truth in love. Instead they have set up a spectacle for fifteen minutes worth of fame which will cause irreparable damage to the efforts of those building bridges to share Jesus in the Muslim world.

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