Submission To Islam

In the last few weeks, talks about the relationship between Islam and Christianity as well as Islam within America have stirred much controversy. On the one hand, the Quran burning festivities have sparked outrage worldwide. On the other hand, the building of a Muslim museum and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero have created much controversy. News analysts, columnists, bloggers and many others have come out of the woodworks to voice their opinions on either or both of these hot topic issues.

At the level of which side(s) to support and which to reject, there seems to be inconsistency. The call to have patience with Muslims worldwide and to refrain from burning the Quran originates from various viewpoints depending on the person. For example, some desire patience so as not to harm American troops around the world. Others desire patience because in a land with freedom of religion, this is simply what one should do; they should tolerate the "other." Still, others think that by yielding patience, we show our power; if we give into anger and retaliation, we show our weakness, just what the Muslim "enemy" wants and so, they get another victory by controlling us. The same things could be said of the near Ground Zero building project. The question might be asked, however, "If Christians and/or Americans are expected to have patience with regard to the Quran burning, why are Muslims or Muslim Americans not expected to have patience with people as the express their anger, hurt and grievances about the mosque in NYC? And what about the rage Christians in America might feel when they see the mobs burning bibles, flags and photos of pastors (in the PRESENT!!!), where's the patience? The Quran burning has only been a "threat" of sorts while these people are actually doing it!

Much of what is going on here is a power struggle. It is sort of becoming a shouting match except with tyrannical tirades; whoever can do the most oppressive, offensive and tyrannical thing, wins. What does the Christian make of this? How does the Christian react? What is the role of Jesus and Jesus' ethics in all of this for the Christian?

Probably, many will see it as weakness or naivete but on a very real level, the call for the Christian is to submit! Submit to Islam? Seriously!?! I find it fascinating that when it comes to wars and governments, the average Christian is ready to rattle off Romans 13 to support their claims. All the while, they leave Romans 12, in connection with chapter 13, out of the equation (see more on this in a previous article of mine HERE). A litmus test of consistency should be applied, however, to the believer who cites this text.

Romans 12.17-21, the five verses preceding the infamously prooftexted 13.1-7, say, "17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Should Christians engage in Quran burning? No! But why? Simply put, because this will not cause us to live at peace with Muslims. Further, this is an act of revenge. What should the Christian do? Perhaps we should share a meal with the Muslims, share a drink with them and listen to them. Either we will get to know them or they will leave with coals heaped on their heads, which is to say, with God's wrath upon them. Paul's advice is wise and sound. We do not fight with the weapons of this world he says in 2 Corinthians, instead, we fight with wisdom from the Spirit of God. That wisdom says to leave room for God's vengeance, in other words, God's wrath, which will have its say in due course. The Christian who revolts against peace and peacemaking with Muslims has not only stirred controversy among inhabitants of this world but also God's wrath against themselves.

As for the building at Ground Zero, should the Christian stand back in fear and never express their feelings? Not necessarily. Should they picket and speak against what they see as injustice? Perhaps. But should they make threats, create fear and incite violence? Not at all. Should the plead for patience? Maybe. Should I ask another rhetorical question and continue on like I'm interviewing myself? :)

Sticking with Paul's advice, it would be most advantageous to sit with the opponent and share food, drink and conversation. Furthermore, that meal should be provided by the one offended as a sort of peace gift. Breaking bread may be the key to "overcoming evil with good" (12.21) in situations such as these. Of course, it is not violent. It is not warlike. It is not pretentious. It is not wrathful. It is not anger-driven. And because it is not any of these, it runs against the grain of how people in our world interact with those they consider most threatening and dangerous to themselves. But even Jesus shared bread with his enemy-betrayer Judas. Jesus overcame evil with good.

Should Christians submit to Muslims? Yes. But not in the sense of giving up. No, in the sense of hearing them out, sharing a meal with them, showing patience to them and maybe even requesting the same. Power in God's kingdom is not the type that lords force over position or anything else over people. Instead, it is a power vested and rooted in submission. It is an upside-down power in the world's eyes and mind. However, it is the way of Jesus. And it is ingrained in the ethic of Jesus. The way forward for the Christian through discussions and issues like these, in my view, starts at the table, the meal table.

But what if they will not come to the table? Well, then, we wait. And how long should we wait? As long as it takes! This, I suggest, is not a show of weakness or stupidity, it is an act of peace and kindness, situated in the deep ethic and heart of none other than Jesus Christ himself who bade us to be peacemakers and to love those considered to be our enemies.

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