It’s really hard for Muslims to hear anything Christians have to say when what they feel from us is the fear, hatred, and bigotry that has become so prevalent since 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, and other acts of terrorism. It’s easy for them to see right through the hypocritical thinking that is so prevalent. I’ll give just one example: we invade a country, illegally, kill thousands of innocent people, don’t accomplish any real goals because we destabilize the region, as President Bush was warned would happen by his advisers, create a humanitarian crisis, don’t do anything about it, and we say it’s not evil and nobody over there has any reason to be mad at us or shoot at us. Al-Qaeda kills a few thousand, and we say it’s evil, and religiously motivated, when they all know it’s politically motivated, a response to our meddling in their land for what’s under their ground. They know that Christians, like the rest of the Americans, condemn one and support the other, and see the hypocrisy.
Why would they listen to a Christian trying to tell them about love if they don’t see any reason to think Christians love them? I could be wrong, but I think they might listen to someone like me who is demonstrating love for them by educating people about their faith and defending the marginalized like them. This is what Jesus made a practice of, defending and ministering to those marginalized by the religious community of his time. He didn’t seem to be too concerned about the sensibilities of the religious community that was all too eager to judge harshly and want to throw stones.
I would love to see Christian churches who get it stand up for the Muslims against the churches that don’t get it, like the Christians who stood up for the blacks when they were being marginalized by the churches who didn’t get it, and do remember, it was Christians quoting their bibles who were for slavery and Jim Crow laws.
When I was more involved with missions they taught us that if we go to a third world country we can’t hope to tell them “Jesus loves you and is your hope in life” when that person has an empty stomach, 24/7, and we have the means to help him, and don’t. How on earth can we as Christians send a message of hope in Christ when it’s accompanied by fear, hatred, bigotry, hypocrisy, bombs, bullets, death, darkness and humanitarian disasters from a so-called Christian nation, whose people are world famous for their ignorance of what goes on around the world and for thinking their country always travels the moral high ground while it’s sending darkness on the rest of the world?
I can’t help but think Jesus is pretty sad about our testimony to Muslims and the rest of the world. When I first went overseas in 1980 I felt so respected wherever I went and felt like people wanted to know about my faith. Lately I’m getting the impression if they want to know about my faith they have to get past the knowledge that I’m an American. How sad is that? This was particularly noticeable when I was in Montenegro after US led NATO bombed the Serbians and I was trying to raise support for and put together a home for widows with kids.
Though our military might, the might that helped save Europe and defeat Hirohito, gave us some respect, it was only because we used it for good. We were not a great nation because we had a great military that could be used to further our “national interests”; we were a great nation because we used our powers and other resources to serve the world in addition to our need for self protection. This is the Jesus way. Jesus never used the powers that God gave him for his own purposes. It was always used for others besides himself. If we want to return to being a great nation again, in the eyes of the rest of the world, this is the only way it can be done. Going uninvited into other countries for the sake of our national interests will continue to degrade this once great nation.
Christians who want to reduce our foreign aid please take note. That is not the Jesus way. God does not love Americans any more than any other nationality. A protectionistic, Americans first mindset is contrary to the God who makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust and wants to bless all people abundantly. Let’s stop worrying about whether God is on our side in our wars against others. He’s not. Let’s get on his side and bless the nations, while we still have the ability to do so. ISIS is alienating the world and will crumble under its own weight. Let’s do the polar opposite and thrive. Let’s elect a president that will cut our military budget in half and use that $300 Billion per year to get us out of debt and help create a stable and secure Middle East and dry up the ISIS recruiting pool. And free college for our kids. And less taxes. Do you realize how much we can do with $300 Billion per year that’s being wasted on 600 military bases in 128 different countries, as if we really need that for “self-defense”. Who are we kidding? Let’s get our priorities straight and act like a great nation again.
The vast majority of Christians in this world have never personally been negatively effected by Islam. What they have experienced comes from the media, some event “out there”, but never in their own neighborhoods. For those who know Muslims personally they generally know them as good people who aren’t much different than the folks at church. I’d be willing to bet a good portion of the Muslims in America who know Christians sense some unease from them, as if they are not fully welcome, as if they are a bit suspect just because they are Muslim. I think on a personal level Muslims have had to be very patient with Americans, especially when they hear all of the ignorance and fear in the media and just wished people actually knew something about Islam. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for example has been in receipt of hundreds of violent messages targeting Arab and Muslim Americans from those who have seen American Sniper. Putting up with ignorance can be taxing and I applaud the Muslim community for their patience.
It didn’t take the American people long to get over any animosity we might have had with Japanese and German people after WW2. We had enough of it in the beginning and enough fear that we felt it necessary to round up any Japanese nationals and put them in prison camps but we got over it. To me that’s a sign of a great nation, one where the people can forgive and forge lasting friendships. Today Japan and Germany are some of our best friends in the world.
It helps that after WW2 we were able to see things as political, and not religious. It will help our current situation if we can recognize that if Muslims hate us it’s because of politics, not religion. There is a persistent narrative that’s quite popular that the Muslims who hate us do so because that’s just what Muslims do; it’s part of their religion. Ignorant commentators are all too quick to take some of their verses out of context to prove their point. Never a thought is given that perhaps there are other reasons they hate us, and those reasons have to do with us, and what we have done to them, in the Middle East, and continue to do so even today.
Given all that we have done to them, including Christian presidents and Christians who have been supporting them all along, I am amazed at the patience the Muslim world has had with us. I think that is a great testimony to the great “nation” of people that they are. If we want to be a great nation, we can start by getting past our fear, hatred, and bigotry toward Muslims. There are other things we need to do, like stop doing the things that create hatred and violence, but that’s a good start.
We’ve done it before, we can do it again.