Thursday, September 15, 2016

I read a story on Facebook this morning from The Guardian about a Muslim woman being set on fire in New York. In a follow-up story The Guardian reported this was not considered a hate crime because several other women had been set on fire by the same man and ethnicity did not appear to be a factor. Excuse me, but how is setting someone on fire not an act of hatred? Christians should be outraged at this. By allowing ourselves to be defined by what we are against, we have lost our sense of community, our sense of responsibility to one another, our God-given mandate to care for one another. I said Christians should be outraged, but not surprised. Until we recover some sense of what it means to be in relationship-and we are in relationship, whether we want to be or not-this will only escalate. Our Gospel is not spread by imposition of will or imposition of law or imposition of anything. It is spread person to person and witnessed to by personal conduct. Paul did not assert his rights when he was beaten and jailed in Philippi. There were two supernatural events in that jail that night-the earthquake and the conversion of the Jailer and his family. The one facilitated the other and Paul's imprisonment facilitated both. When Paul did assert his rights as a Roman citizen, he did so to protect the church he had founded, to give it legitimacy. Forcing our morality on those who do not want it while ignoring blatant crimes of hatred does not glorify God, it does not advance His Kingdom and it does not demonstrate His presence. To do these things, we need to learn the importance of relationships, from the Gospel point of view.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)

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