“For Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us….He came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father, so then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (1 Ephesians 2: 14-19).
When the Berlin Wall fell, many Americans were a little sad. You see, the imminent apocalypse which was at the fore of humanity’s mind for almost fifty years, due to the fact that America and Russia had enough nukes pointed at each other to destroy our solar system, had made several people extremely wealthy. A massive weapons industry had built itself upon the fear and prejudice of the Cold War, also upon the understanding that there would always be that “other” in the USSR providing a reason to continue to produce and sell guns, bombs, and nukes at exorbitant prices. In addition to that, an entire culture of “Us vs. them” had developed in the States, people had become accustomed to chanting “USA” and glorifying our warriors for protecting us from the commies, many knew of no other kind of society. When the USSR fell, it turned us into a bloated empire overnight, whereas before we were valiant crusaders protecting the world from tyranny.
Many of us were walking around in a militaristic daze during the nineties, trying to find some way to justify the existence of our gigantic and unconquerable military. We bombed and invaded all kinds of countries, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, but those were too easy. The fact that we could knock over an entire sovereign nation in a couple of weeks only strengthened the case that some were making for the shrinking of our military might and presence on the globe. This obviously could not happen. The Military Industrial Complex, which Eisenhower warned us about, were running things now and simply needed to find another “them” to justify its existence. A “them” who would take decades to defeat, just like Russia.
Rich and powerful men have a vested interest in getting us to hate Muslims. Our hate makes them wealthier and more powerful, how’s that for some evil?
This post is about why we, as Christians, should love Muslims.
The first reason is obvious, considering the point I made above, we are being manipulated to hate for profit. If that isn’t enough to convince you, here are some other reasons.
Christians and Muslims actually have a lot in common. We both trace our roots back to Abraham. We both believe in and revere only one creator God. Muslims place a strong emphasis on justice and righteousness, and so should we Christians. Muslims revere Jesus Christ in a way no other faith outside of Christianity does. They believe he was born of a virgin, so that’s one apologetic hurdle already cleared, and they believe he was a great prophet and worthy of respect. Am I saying Muslims are perfect? No. Is there belief system going to get them to heaven? No. But, there is a strong foundation of commonalities on which we can build relationships, and then we can share the truth of Christ’s love with them.
There’s an interesting story from the gospel of John chapter 4. In it, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman. The Samaritan relationship to the Jewish people has some interesting parallels to the way Islam relates to Christianity. First, the Samaritan religion was similar to the Jewish one in that they both worshiped one God, but in different ways. The Samaritans had their own mountain of worship apart from the Temple mount of the Jews. Additionally, the Samaritans had their own Holy book. Isn’t it interesting that, with so many commonalities, these two groups were bitter enemies? Here is a passage from Christ’s encounter with the woman, beginning with verse 19:
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Three things are worth noting from this passage. First off, the Samaritan woman recognized Jesus as a prophet, much in the same way Muslims do. Second, Jesus did not argue to the hilt for Jerusalem being the correct place of worship, like so many of us would. He actually transcended the religious difference and told her that the true worshippers would soon worship God “in Spirit and in truth”. Presumably, anywhere they found themselves. Also, he did not water down His message, he made it quite clear that the Jews were correct and that He was the Messiah she was waiting for, but he did so in a spirit of love and reconciliation. In this story, our savior gives us a great model for us to be able to relate and witness to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
My last point for why we should love Muslims is because we are commanded to. Christ tells us to love our enemies, not to elect the guy most excited about bombing them. He tells us that the most important thing in this life for us today, apart from loving God, is to love our neighbors as our selves. Like it or not, Muslims are becoming your neighbors more and more each day. They are moving to the US in droves. They’re coming here for many of the same reasons your ancestors came here, they want the freedom to worship God and a better life for their kids. So, instead of calling INS on them and then voting for the next cookie cutter neo-con water-boy for the Military Industrial Complex, why not bake them a pork-free casserole and stop by their house to welcome them to the neighborhood. Maybe while you’re there, you can share the love of Jesus Christ.