When I first heard of the mosque being built at Ground Zero in New York City, I questioned the wisdom of choosing that site. It wasn’t till conversations got heated, reheated, and burned to a crisp that I began to truly make up my mind about it all. I fluctuated between sympathies to one side, and “how dare they” to the other.
Some say it’s a matter of sensitivity to those who lost loved ones on 9-11 that the Muslim Mosque should choose another site. I empathize, I truly do. I have difficulty in sharing what I believe is more important. As a Christian, I think, it is because of the sensitivity to the entire subject matter–Islam versus “whatever”–that I cannot remain silent. To me, it is not about compassion for those who lost loved ones, nor is it the freedom of religion to build a mosque near Ground-Zero in New York City.
This is about Jesus. It is about opening doors, building foundations to share the Gospel. Muslims do not know what (or Who) we know. They don’t know Jesus. Muslims who practice their faith trust in their own goodness to get them to heaven. We trust in the righteousness of Christ. When we show them we do not want them around, we cannot show them Jesus. When we condemn them for what they think and believe, we cannot begin to reach them. Can we?
The mad-men who flew jetliners into the Twin Towers on 9-ll, are no more examples of rational worshiping moderate Muslims, than Timothy McVeigh is an example of rational, worshiping born-again evangelical Christians. To say that American Muslims who practice the Islamic faith cannot build a mosque two blocks from Ground-Zero would be the same as saying, to them, that American Christians who practice their faith in Christ could not build a church near the Oklahoma City site that Timothy McVeigh bombed because McVeigh claimed to be a Christian.
Our argument might be, “That’s ludicrous! Just because Timothy McVeigh claimed to be a Christian doesn’t mean he practiced Christianity. Christians do not condone what he did in Oklahoma City. We want to build our church there to act as a open-door to show love and life–not hate and violence.”
Is our argument any stronger than the Muslims who want to build a Mosque in New York? Is it any weaker?
I’m more concerned about what the words of Christians today are saying to Muslims as this controversy gains more and more attention, and the debates get louder and louder. Does continued anger and hatred for those who bombed the Twin Towers do anything to further the Gospel message to those who practice Islamic faith today?
We do not worship a prophet as they do. We worship God Incarnate–Jesus Christ. What message are we sending by lumping all Muslims into the same group as the 9-11 terrorists? Are we making it easier to reach them with the Truth of Christ by blaming all Muslims for what a few have done and do? Or are we making it harder?
Perhaps we should stop throwing stones at the Mosque, and begin reaching for building blocks. Let them build their mosque. Then, let someone (the SBC?) build a church and Cafe Court next door and invite them all in to worship and dinner afterwards. I’m just weighing in on a topic I find as opportune for the Great Commission. What are your thoughts? selahV