I would imagine that most of you have heard about the killing of the US ambassador in Libya and the riots and killings all over the Muslim world in reaction to the movie made on their prophet Mohammed.Blood has been shed and hatred has been stirred up. Much analysis has been given by the media and the complexity of this topic is such that it cannot be fully covered here.
Two things I would like to say on this: first of all that it is wrong to kill whether it is in the name of religion or not. Secondly, what really strikes me here is the disproportionate reaction we witness when one criticizes Islam or indeed its prophet. Few months ago it was the case of the Danish cartoons, today it is a YouTube video and a caricature of Mohammed in a French newspapers and in almost all cases precious lives are being lost on the altar of religious fanaticism.
Today I stumbled upon another article…funnily enough there is not so much talk about it. It says that “the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the US says his organization will protest a photography exhibit at a New York City art gallery on Thursday because of a photograph that will be on display which shows a crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist’s urine.” And it goes on to say “The timing is done to basically take the middle finger of the artistic community and put it right into the face of Christians”
The controversial photograph, titled “Piss Christ,” will be featured in the “Body and Spirit: Andres Serrano 1987-2012” exhibit in Manhattan starting Thursday. The photograph was taken in 1987, and Serrano has said that it is “meant to question the whole notion of what is acceptable and unacceptable.”
Fair enough, there are some people out there who will see in this some artistic value, probably even some philosophical and political questioning on the notion of “Free Speech”, but let me ask you the question, what would have been the reaction to a photography exhibit of a Koran immersed into a jar of urine…? Inevitably, this would have caused much stir and an almost certainly a violent backlash.
Why are we not more vocal when our Jesus is being mocked, ridiculed, blasphemed? Why don’t we fight? What is the appropriate response to offense?
Let’s take a look at Scriptures: what does Jesus tell us to do when people offend us? He tells us to love them.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5
Jesus also tells us :
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight… (John 18:36)
The kingdom of Christ is not identified as a visible kingdom. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It extends through the preaching of the gospel, not through bombs and bullets, violence and bloodshed.
However, I prophesied recently that persecution was coming to the UK and Europe mainly, and we need to be prepared for it. Opposition to the Christian faith is definitely intensifying. Different influences seem to be coming together that could soon combine to produce a perfect storm of difficulty for followers of Christ in our region of the world.Militant atheism, secularism and false religion seem to be working together in an unprecedented way with one ultimate aim – to weaken the influence of Christian churches and push the Christian faith to the margins of our society. The aim of militant Islam is to become the dominant religious force in the nation and it will not rest until Britain becomes an Islamic state.
We love the Muslims, and it is wonderful to see so many of them finding the joy and freedom of salvation in Christ through our ministry in London and further afield. But we must never forget that the Quran teaches the supremacy of Islam. To be a good Muslim you must believe that there is only one true religion – Islam. All others must be overthrown or subjugated. This is the clear teaching of the founder of Islam and of all its major religious texts.
It is time to become a “radical christian”. Our faith is rooted in the person of Christ – his teaching, his example and his work of redemption. Jesus came to save a lost humanity. This is our only hope and we must proclaim his message of salvation clearer and more boldly that ever.
We must be more than ever vocal about our faith. But preaching alone is not enough, we must show the world the doctrine of Christ and live as true, radical disciples of Christ. At root, Jesus’ message was about love – love to God and our neighbour. The truly radical Christian takes the words of Jesus and lives them out uncompromisingly. This is the “extremism” we should be known for.