By now, most people have at least heard about the wackadoodle pastor in Florida who wants to burn about 200 copies of the Quran. As of the writing of this post, he is “seriously considering not burning the Qurans.” (cnn.com)
The initial response to this guy is the easy one: “What an idiot.”
But the more difficult question is how I would love him or any other religious extremist? For me, the fact that he claims to be Christian doesn’t make it easier. In fact, I think it’s actually more difficult because this one claims to follow the same God of the Bible that I do.
In light of Jesus’ commission to love others and do to them as I would have them do to me, if I were that pastor, I would have you wack me over the head with a stupid stick and say, “Wake up, moron!”
Here’s the rub: there are more “Christians” like him. Just like there are radical Muslims who want to burn things up to make a point that no one wants to hear. In fact, sometimes I wonder if these two groups should just be put in a room with no weapons and let them beat the bloody hell out of each other until they realize the emptiness of it all.
This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time we have someone misrepresent Christ and get a ton of media attention for it. It has happened throughout church history; racists, hate-dealers, money-changers, and manipulators all get the headlines. The important question for me is more about how I respond to those who fit into this hard-to-love category. Jesus gave no lines to determine at what point we are “off the hook” when it comes to love. He just told us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
It’s clear to me that the Quran-hating pastor in Florida has no discernment or wisdom on how to be Jesus to those of other religions. What has not been instantly clear to me is how I process a situation like this without embittering myself further over the behavior of 2-percenters.
I suppose my first Gospel act in this matter is to pray for him and those he has thoroughly pissed off. I’m finding that a little more difficult than I would hope.
7 thoughts on “Love the "Idiots" as Yourself”
comment: good stuff. ’nuff said.
Maybe we can start modeling Christ firstly in the use of such labels as “neighbor”, instead of the more colorful adjectives that some Christians are finding useful in their vent-a-thon-blogging on this poor, sorry, sap?
You may have missed the point of the article, which would be more an indication of my ability to communicate the point than your ability to understand.
I plead guilty to the crime of using labels such as “idiot” for people like Terry Jones. This is what I’m saying. The “easy” response is the first one, and that’s to label the guy an idiot, and to become embittered about the behaviors of extremists.
It’s the second, more Christ-like response that I’m struggling with here. Your comment is actually part of the point of my article. I’m coming at this from the rusty, not-quite-there side, while you are commenting from the side of more sympathy for the perpetrator. Had I felt more neighborly about him, the article would have not happened. I wrote from my pissed-off-ed-ness about these types, exploring the need to love them somehow.
I agree with you… I’ve got a ways to go in this.
Hey my friend, I read this earlier today and wanted to say a few things.
First, the title cracked me up – nice … sorta – lol.
Two, Terry Jones’ behavior is absurd, dangerous and certainly un-Christiian. However, his ignorance gives Christians an opportunity to say to the Muslim and non-Christian world that this does not represent the Christian faith nor reflect the love of Jesus. Similar to the numerous unwise remarks Pat Robertson has made, it at least gives us the opportunity to say, “This not what Jesus teaches, but rather this is …”. It’s almost a strawman that you get to tear apart but the beauty is you didn’t have to go through the trouble of constructing him. (And most strawmen are created poorly).
Third, I appreciate Brian’s comment and your response. The frustration gets the best of me too and discerning the balance between authentic anger and Christian compassion is a tricky one. May we seek that wisdom in prayer.
Good thoughts, all. I decided to put “idiots” in quotes in the title, so that the title doesn’t say something the article isn’t saying.
I did genuinely pray for Terry Jones, and I don’t think it’s cliche to say that prayer is a good place to begin living out the Gospel in these kinds of things. It certainly has the effect of yanking out any pedestals that may have unknowingly been set underfoot.
No wonderful, pithy remark from me. Just stopped in to say that I love this phrase: “pedestals that may have unknowingly been set underfoot.” Love language! Keep thinking and writing, jbarmer.
Thanks for the encouragement, BW!