Saturday, October 03, 2009
By the way, this debate was in regard to the Christians who were "witnessing" to the Muslims who had gathered in Washington D.C. for a day of prayer and unity, with the purpose being to express the beauty and diversity of Islam in the United States. It was a peaceful gathering, which brought approximately 3,000 Muslims to our nation's capitol.
It also brought out several Christians who carried signs that urged th Muslims to repent, turn to Jesus, and so on. At one point, the Christians were praying so loudly that they were asked to quiet down so the Muslim's prayer service could continue without distraction.
You can read the whole story here: Muslims Gather at Capitol for a Day of Prayer and Unity.
I thought the Christians were out of line for being there at all, and "witnessing" at such a gathering was completely inappropriate. In my opinion, it was disrespectful of the Muslim's beliefs and traditions, and was abolutely boorish. I argued that Christians are notorious for such actions, and that is why we have the reputation we do in the media of being disprespectful, pushy with our beliefs, uneducated, lacking in savvy and decorum in how we relate to the world around us...as one guest on the Rachel Maddow Show recently said, in the eyes of the world, "there is a village idiot in the United States, and it is the Christian fundamentalists."
I am not comfortable with Christians having this reputation in the eyes of the world, but I do not buy the opinion of ClusterFox News and its die-hard fans that says there is "an elite liberal media" that is biased against Christians, and intentionally portray us in a bad light. I think the reality is that we portray ourselves that way, and the media just films it.
Her argument was that the Christians were fulfilling Jesus' commandment to preach the gospel, and they were there to show the love of Jesus by telling the Muslims about their need for salvation. She argued that since they had gathered in a public place, it was not an issue that the Christians also chose to be there, with their signs and verbal shouts of "repent!" and so on. She said that the reason it was offensive to people is not because the behavior is wrong, but because they are resisting salvation.
Our dialogue on the issue went back and forth for two days, becoming rather heated at times, and finally ending with an impasse of ideologies.
To be honest, I was upset with the way the conversation ended. We were civil to each other, and mutually concluded that it was time to wrap it up. However, I was upset because I did not understand who someone could completely miss my point, and defend the tactics used by the conservative Christians during the event in D.C., and many other events that also portrayed Christians in such a poor light. I did not see how someone could be so foolish in believing that those tactics had any merit at all.
So, our dialogue ended this morning, and now that I've had some time to simmer down and see the heart of her convictions, I can see that her intentions are pure, and she has a heart that loves the world. Her expression of that doesn't look like mine, not even a little bit, but that doesn't change its sincerity.
We are all so much more alike than we are different. If we could listen to each other and find that common ground, imagine how much more we could accomplish in trying to make the world a better place.
I will never be one to carry a sign reading "REPENT" or anything of the sort, believing that someone reading will see the love of Jesus in my sign, or hear it in my shouts of "YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY TO HELL! TURN OR BURN!", and so on. It will always be difficult for me to be understanding and tolerant of Christians who choose to use that sort of tactic to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the world. I do not see love in it, so I don't understand the logic behind it. The conservative Christian movement that is going on in the United States right now is making all followers of Christ look foolish, and I tend to distance myself from it as much as possible.
That said, I think we are all coming from a place of wanting to make the world around us a better place, and we are each finding our own way of doing that. It won't look the same, nor should it. God created an amazing diversity among people. We each understand God in our own unique way, therefore we each have a different belief on what our expression of him should look like. It is not my place to pass judment on those who do not do things the way I think they need to be done.
In order to maintain peace, the divine in me must recognize and honor the divine in them, trusting that God--the Divine from whom we both seek guidance and whom we both seek to honor--will raise the banner of love and truth, no matter how much we may mess up the delivery of the message.
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