The Love of Christ Compels us
I will never forget this day 9 years ago. My mother had gone to the local gas station that morning. I was still in my pajamas when she came home anxiously telling us to flip on the television. "That's the trade towers," she said. At the time, I had no idea what that was or what was happening, but my mother explained that a man at the gas station had told her that a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings! As I watched the live news, I saw the second plane hit the second tower! At first, I thought it was a replay; then I realized that this plane had just struck the second tower! My mouth fell open! Although we live in Upstate NY, my father has had frequent business associations with companies down in NYC; as an international banker, he had also known contacts in the World Trade Center and had even made several trips down to NYC. Needless to say, I was stunned. This was too close to home. How could this be happening? The News told us that some Muslim terrorists had attacked America. And so began the event that forever changed our nation.
Nine years later, there is talk about an Islamic Center (Mosque) being built in NYC. This has incurred the anger of many Americans. I think the main arguement is that if it was the Muslims who attacked us, why are we -- or rather, why is our president who claims that he is not a Muslim -- allowing them to build this complex in the very state, the very location, that was attacked that fateful day? It does seem like a slap in the face to America. Some Americans have taken their anger to an extreme; we've all heard the news about the pastor in Florida who was planning to burn the Qu'ran today, September 11, 2010. I am aware that he has "changed his plans," but I still feel the need to address this issue. This is a very bad portrayal of Christianity.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31-33
The above passage tells us to give no offense in anything or to anyone. Isn't burning a Qu'ran offensive to Muslims? Now I must clarify that I don't agree with the President's policy of appeasement towards the Muslims, nor do I believe in Islam. But there are many Muslims who are desperately trying to find the truth and burning their holy book is only going to make them hate Christianity and its God. In contrast, Jesus told us, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:44-48) Jesus says that we are to love our enemies. If we were to treat people nice simply because they treated us nicely and hate those who hate us, we would be no different than the world. Instead, we must have God's love, the love that says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39) Notice that Jesus didn't specify who your neighbor is -- it doesn't matter whether you agree with your neighbor or not; you love them, you show God's love to them. This is why Jesus said two verses before that the first commandment was, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." You love God, and then you can love ANYONE, regardless of religious or personal tastes. Burning Qu'rans is not the way to do that!
In fact, it gives the false impression that Christians in general hate Muslims, a fact that is simply not true. I have always said that we must see behind the label; behind every label is a person -- a soul. If we show hatred toward the whole Islamic regime by burning Qu'rans and other such nonsense, we risk a human soul turning its back on God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 we read, "See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." To clarify, we might dislike what the Muslims do, we might disagree with their religion, but we must never be so stupid as to stir up their anger by slandering their religion. This does not mean that we don't speak out on issues where we disagree, and this does not mean that we follow the example of Mr. President and appease while putting our nation at risk. It means that we show the love of Christ to them. Christ is revealing Himself to Muslims all around the world because He loves them (I have read many of their personal testimonies, one of which is featured below). How can we turn them away from Him by our stupidity? I heard a quote that does well with many things in Christianity, but I think it brings out this point well: "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) As Christians, we need to always be alert to the consequences of our actions; is what we are about to do representative of Christ or does it show hatred instead of the love of God? 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 states, "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." This should be our attitude towards EVERYONE, not just those whom we consider to be in our "group." Jesus did not say that He died for one person or group and not another; He died for all. Therefore, we should be sharing the love of Christ with all people no matter who they are. The Scriptures say, "For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
I mentioned that Muslims around the world are finding Christ. I want to share this fascinating testimony from a Muslim man who found Christ. I feel that this story is representative of many Muslims-turned-Christian's experiences. I will leave one disclaimer though: not every Bible that is burned turns out like this one!
"Khalid Mansoor Soomro is from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was an ardent follower of Mohammed until the results of a challenge he laid out before some Christian students. Please read this powerful testimony of how this man was converted to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! And He said unto them: "Go into the world, and preach the gospel to every Creature." (Mark 16:15)
When I was 14 years old I was studying in a convent school at Saddar Karachi Pakistan. I belong to a Muslim family.
My parents forced me to learn the Qur'an by heart when I was seven and so I did. I had a lot of Christian fellows (or acquaintances) at school. I was surprised to see them studying while I always found Christians of low profile in the society. I discussed and argued a lot with them about the accuracy of Qur'an and rejection of Bible by Allah in Holy Qur'an. I always forced them to accept Islam. Often my Christian teacher told me not to do so. He said, "God may choose you as he chose the Apostle Paulus." I asked them who is Paulus, I know Muhammad only. One day during our discussion I challenged them to burn the Holy Books of each other. They should burn the Qur'an and I should do the same with the Bible. We agreed: "The book which would burn, would be false. The book, which would not burn, has the Truth in it. God Himself would save His Word." Unfortunately they were not ready to do this because they were frightened. Living in an Islamic Country and doing such a thing could lead them to face the law and meet its consequences. I told them I could do this by myself.
First I set the Qur'an on fire and it got burnt before our eyes. Then I tried to do the same with the Bible. As soon as I tried it, the Bible struck my chest and I fell on the ground. There was smoke all around my body. I was burning, but from a spiritual fire. Suddenly I saw a man with golden hair, wrapped in light on my side. He placed his hand on my head and said to me "You are my son and from now on you will preach the Gospel in your nation. Go! Your Lord is with you." Then I saw the stone on the grave, which was removed. Mariam Magdalene spoke to the gardener who probably took the body of my Lord. The gardener was Jesus Himself. He kissed the hand of Mariam and I woke up. I felt very strong as if when someone would strike me, I could not be hurt.
I went home and I told my parents about all what happened. But they did not believe it. They thought that the Christians got me under magic, but I told them that all this happened before my very own eyes and that many people were watching this. They still did not believe and they turned me out of my home and refused to accept me as their family member. I went to a Church close to my home; I told the Father there all about what happened. I asked him to show me the Bible. He gave me one and I read about the event of Mariam Magdalene and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior on 02-17-85.
My Family refused to accept me. I went to various churches and got more knowledge about the Word of God. I also followed many Bible Courses and then I got a ministry. Now after 21 years, I have seen many people come to the Lord and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Thanks to the Lord, I am now married and have a Christian family. Me and my wife Khalida are involved in the work of the Lord and able to share the miracles God has been doing in our lives. Even though it is not easy and we face many hardships, we feel like Paul who went through hardships and suffering for the Glory of His Savior, who went Himself through suffering during His walk on earth and on the cross. We thank God the Father for sending His Son to this earth and giving us free life through Him. We thank God for His Spirit who encourages us day by day to live for Him."
In closing, we will always remember September 11. But instead of becoming bitter about this tragic event, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and share His love with the world.
P.S. Next week, I will be kicking off my bi-weekly Inspiring Story meme. Anyone can join, but all content must be of the Christian nature. What has God been doing in your life? Do you have a personal testimony you'd like to share? Keep in mind that all posts containing material which I find to be offensive will be promptly deleted from the linky. Stay tuned for next week's link party!