BRIDGING OFFENSES THROUGH CHRIST
The offense: On June 28, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival. His actions set off a fury of violent protests, demonstrations and violence throughout the Muslim world, affecting many millions and jeopardizing a delicate peace in areas. While many have been openly critical of his actions, there are some who aren’t, which is a tragedy. I urge you to pray for our pastors and churches and their Muslim neighbors in Muslim countries as they walk the walk day in and day out. We can all take time to pray for our neighbors of other faiths, following Christ’s and Paul’s examples. – Dee A. Cook, CEO
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ASV)
The Christian faith emphasizes God’s infinite and unconditional love for all humankind, because of which God leaves His Son to suffer crucifixion and substitutionary death because His purpose is:
“Who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4 (ASV)
Christ never taught us to offend the beliefs and ideas of others whose faith differs from ours. He did not lead us to offend religious symbols, but on the contrary, He found that the Law itself finds fulfillment in Himself (Matthew 5:17).
We can also easily find that Paul himself -despite his zeal for the Gospel’s message and his impulsiveness in trying to defend it – did not clash with anyone, whether they were Jews or Greeks. On the contrary, he was able to harness texts from both contexts to use them to deliver the message of the Gospel (ِActs 13:16-41; 17:22-31).
In fact, the incidents that took place in Sweden a few weeks ago, represented an offense to the Christian faith, and the young man who did that act declared that he was an atheist, and therefore had nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.
Christians in Iraq love their Muslim neighbors and members of other faiths, which is reflected in sharing the Good News. People need to know that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Still, the way to deliver this message requires acting with wisdom and love, without losing the Other or underestimating his beliefs, but rather respecting them and his convictions, and the final decision remains subject to his free will.
Therefore, I call for our participation in prayer so that the Church in Iraq will remain a beacon that reflects the light of Christ, and that it can bear witness to the Love of God that appeared in Jesus Christ, in addition to the need for heavenly wisdom to share the Good News of the Gospel using means that suit the culture of society without offending it or its beliefs, that means the Incarnational ministry (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
– Rev Dr Ara Badalian, The Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Baptist Church, Baghdad and President of the Association of the Iraqi National Evangelical Churches