Yesterday, someone asked me if I hated Muslims. I was shocked by the question. Of course I love Muslims! How could I not love others when the highest, simplest calling of a Christian is to love everyone?
The tragedy of it all is the reason they asked was because they had conversed with someone, recently, who called themselves a Christian, yet confessed that they hate Muslims. How can this be, Church? How can we hate someone because of their religious orientation, their sexual orientation, their anything-other orientation, in the name of Christ, when Christ Himself came to break barriers and promote love for all mankind. When I read the New Testament, I discover that one of God’s greatest missions in sending the Messiah was to smash the wall that kept Himself aloof from everyone that wasn’t Jewish. He came to form a family that crossed cultural barriers and invited everyone into knowing God.
I began to weep, as I told this man of my Savior, who intentionally went out of His way to meet with a woman at a well in Samaria (the people group who were treated most like Muslims are in this day and age, by the Jews, the people-group that Jesus came from). This woman wasn’t just any woman, but the most despised, the most shameful of her clan. She ventured out to this well in the heat of the day, in order to avoid the public shame that followed her everywhere she went. She was avoiding the gossip and the cross-wise looks from her countrymen. And Jesus, the Holy One, made a special appointment, out of His most demanding schedule, to engage her. He even stayed for a couple of days, so that her whole town could know His world-changing love.
Church, we are supposed to be noteworthy in our love for one another, our love for neighbor. And when Jesus was pressed to define neighbor, He used a Samaritan to describe this type of radical love. How will any Muslim (men and women who were also created in the Image of God, as we were) know that our God is any different? How will they know that our God lives and gives and forms this radical Cross-shaped love inside of His followers, when we treat them as if we disdain them for their present day religious practices.
I don’t know about you, but my goal when I soar home to heaven is to bring as many people, from as many tribes and tongues, as I can with me, when I go. I don’t know about you, but when I read those sacred Scriptures, all I see is a God who intercepted all of history, time and space, to exemplify the kind of love that reached for everyone. And the only folks that He had hard rebukes for were the religious leaders, the ones who didn’t know they were busted, and as a result, didn’t know how to love those who were.
My heart aches for this world to know that Jesus is magnificently different. That Jesus is love gushing out at the seams. For this world to know that He will mend their hearts the way He has mended mine. And how will they know, Church, when we are called to love, and we chose hate and condemnation? How will they know?