Christian. Muslim. Love. Unconditional.
Rachel Held Evans is right on target.
Rachel posted a thoughtful response to the Islamic community center planned for New York City.
Read the article here: Loving our Muslim neighbors unconditionally
Here are the highlights and some comments.
Rachel quoted Tony Campolo as he warned against persecution of Muslims and Arab Americans:
"As Christians, we can’t let this happen. These are our neighbors, created in the image of God. They deserve our love and respect."
It seems a harsh word. But it seems to fit the tone of some of the comments and opinions I'm hearing from Christians.
Islam is offensive to Christianity?
Islam threatens the American way of life?
Rachel asks a rock-solid, convicting question:
Have these Christians forgotten that our first allegiance is not to our own interests or to the "American way of life," but rather to the Kingdom of Heaven?
Think of the culture in which God placed Himself as a man. Jesus the Man was born and grew up in perhaps "the most oppressive and cruel empire in history." He preached to people who had every fleshly right to fight the government - every right to be bitter and offended. Yet, what did Jesus preach?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5)
Rachel describes a "tragic disconnect" from the way of Jesus when Christians say,
"We will respect your faith when you respect ours" or "You can build a mosque in New York when we can build a church at Mecca."
Regardless of Muslim's motives or allegiance to American ideals, we have a mandate from Christ to love unconditionally:
Love our neighbor.
Love our enemy.
Pray for those who persecute.
At least one of these applies to every person we meet or read about.
Our identity is in Christ - crucified, risen, and exalted. Not in any "American Way".
Rachel ends with two conclusions that are without argument:
The constitution guarantees that Muslims should be able to worship when and where they please.
Compassion compels us to reach out to those who are hurting...on either side of any divide.