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Muslim Outrage and God's Grace
February 06, 2006
“Freedom Go To Hell,” reads the sign. “Europe You Will Pay. Your 9/11 Is On Its Way,” and “Be Prepared For The Real Holocaust” read others. Other signs list verbs prescribing the punishment for one who blasphemes the prophet of Islam: behead, slay, butcher, exterminate, massacre, annihilate. All this from the hearts and hands of those who claim to follow the religion of peace. And all of this over a series of cartoons.
James White writes, “I see the State Department of the United States has also condemned the cartoons…could someone link me to where they condemn the blasting of Christianity, the Bible, Jesus Christ, etc., that takes place daily in almost all of our newspapers? I can’t find that link. I must just be missing it. It has to be there, right?” But we all know it is not there. Jesus Christ is blasphemed and reviled every day. In fact, there may be no greater object of scorn in the world today than Jesus Christ. His very name is, for multitudes of people, little more than a blasphemous swear word. The name of Jesus is slandered and blasphemed not only in cartoons, but in poetry, prose, song and film. The symbols of Christianity are swear words and the Savior of the world is despised and rejected.
John Piper comments, “To me this cries out for the observation that when artists put the crucifix in a flask of urine, Christians were grieved and angered, but not one threatened to kill anyone. Our longing is to convert the blasphemers with the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection, not kill them. Our faith is based on One who was reviled not just in cartoons but in reality and received it patiently for the salvation of the cartoonists. These riots are filled with intimations about the glorious difference between Christ and Mohammed, and between the way of Christ and the way of Islam. And the cowing of the press around the world and the US government is ominous for the fear we are under of Islam—not just extremist Islam. I do not respect the teachings of Islam which when followed devoutly lead to destruction.”
My friend Paul Martin says that this is the bottom line: “Our God is sovereign and will meet out a perfect justice in the great and final judgement. He doesn’t need me to burn your house down just because you blaspheme Him. In fact, He calls on me to warn you of your sin and (wonder of all wonders) to urge you to embrace the One you have mocked and disgraced as your own Saviour from sin and its punishment.”
Islam is, in many ways, a terrifying religion. As much as Muslims insist that they embrace a religion of peace, it would so often seem to be anything but. The great irony in many of the protests around Europe and the protest expressed in North America is that the Muslims are using the freedom of speech provided to them by the Christian framework of the constitutions of their lands to protest another freedom of expression. They are using freedom that would be denied to them were their laws to rule the land.
Christians look at these people burning, shouting and inciting violence and we feel some outrage, but mostly we feel pity. These people are merely acting out a naturally sinful human tendency.
Christianity is a rational set of beliefs that can be proven in many different ways. We can turn to historical evidences for the existence of Jesus and there are many available to us. We can look at the complexity of the universe and declare correctly that it must have been created by an intelligent Designer. And it was. But when I seek evidence of the truths of the claims of Scripture, I need look no further than Scripture itself. There is simply no way that a mere human could have created such a religion. It is impossible.
Every religion in the world acknowledges that there is a problem with humanity. Every religion knows that man is not in the state for which he was created. This is obvious to us. Every person knows, even if only deep in his heart, that death is unnatural. Men were made to live forever, not to be torn away from friends and family. Men were made to live in fellowship with God, not seperated from Him temporally and eternally. Every religion in the world offers some type of solution to this problem. But for one, every religion offers a solution that ultimately depends on the efforts of man. Only Christianity looks outside of man to the work of God Himself. Jesus Christ is our hope. Without Him and without His work we are nothing, we have nothing and we can look forward to nothing. He is our only hope.
Jesus Christ, through the Spirit, empowers us to live lives that are pleasing to Him. He calls us to live lives marked by peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. He tells us that, if our enemy persecutes us, we are to love our enemy. If a person strikes us we are to turn the other cheek. If a person blasphemes the Lord God, we are not to exact vengeance but are to lovingly, patiently, passionately challenge that person to turn from his sin and to turn towards the Lord, the very one who has been offended. We serve a Lord who is infinitely more willing to forgive than we are to sin. And we all love to sin.
Christianity proves itself to be true simply by its other-worldliness. No human being could conceive of such grace - grace that compels us to forgive rather than avenge. Grace that demands obedience rather than sacrifice. Grace that forgives all of our sin.
So when I look to the news and see followers of Mohammed burning embassies, rioting in the streets and demanding blood, I see my own humanity. I see men acting as men will act. But then I turn to Scripture and see the change God has wrought in my heart, and the change he can bring to the hearts of those who seek blood. Blood has already been shed, and Christ’s precious blood is sufficient to cover a multitude of sins.
When I see the Muslim riots I see myself. Looking past myself I see Jesus Christ and in Him, clear evidence for the truths of Christianity.