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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: 1 John 3

Every time I think I could not possibly more shocked or appalled at what some folks do in the name of Jesus, I find that I am wrong: some self-professed follower of Jesus manages to find new ways to further shock and appall me.

Case in point: one Terry Jones – pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL.

Mr. Jones announced recently that he has declared September 11 "International Burn a Koran Day." His goal is to exploit the painful memories that linger from September 11, 2001 and use them to inflame anti-Muslim prejudice around the globe.

How sad. How horribly, horribly sad.

I find it ironic that if individuals from another country and/or another faith tradition were to sponsor an "International Burn the Bible Day" that Mr. Jones and his followers would probably be the first ones to complain about such acts of religious bigotry.

My dilemma, then, is to figure out how to respond to Mr. Jones. Do I respond to his actions fueled by bigotry and hatred with my own expression of hatred and bigotry aimed in his direction; or do I search my heart for some other response?

Thankfully, I have the words from the third chapter of 1 John to help guide me in my discernment process today.

"My dear children, let's not just talk about love," the chapter states, "let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living, truly living, in God's reality."

So what does practicing real love look like in this situation?

Practicing real love can take numerous forms. One form it took for me was to show my solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers by joining things like the Facebook page titled "People of Faith Opposed to the Burning of the Qur'an." Another form it took was in my decision to resist the temptation to say hateful/hurtful things about Mr. Jones – and instead hold him and the Dove World Outreach Center in my prayers so that their hearts might be changed.

In this highly charged (and highly politicized) environment, I would ask you to find time today to consider various ways you can practice real love by responding to Mr. Jones' inflammatory words and actions. It's especially important to find the time to do this in the days leading up to September 11 as the levels of fear, distrust – and sadly even hatred – will undoubtedly continue to escalate in many of our communities.

Til next time …

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