In our flat world of instant news and information one pastor can create a fire storm for all pastors.
Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida grabbed his fifteen minutes of fame by calling his loyal followers to burn hundreds books of the Quran on September 11, 2010. In his own strange way he believes he is helping America come to grips with the tragedy of 9/11 and to confront the face of evil.
Jones actions have created a firestorm of responses from leaders as high up as President Obama and General David Patraeus, both of whom fear this action will only inflame those who hate America and will put our young men and women of the Armed Services in harms way.
In response to the burning of the books, Jeffrey Berney, a school principal, declared an “International Read the Koran Day”. He admitted he had never read it, and felt that it would be good for better understanding to read the book that lays the foundation for Islam. He wrote:
So instead of burning a Qur’an on September 11, join me in reading one instead. Let’s learn about other cultures — instead of insulting them.
If I had to choose, I must admit I would rather read the Qur’an than to burn it. As a follower of Jesus I see no justification for hatred and revenge. In fact, I have sought to learn more about those who follow the teachings of the Qur’an. The vast majority of Muslims reject the actions of the extremist just the rest of us.
I believed Jesus lived in a world like ours filled with hatred and violence, so when He preached His Sermon on the Mount he ushered in a new world order.
I believe Jesus was totally serious about turning the other cheek and walking a second mile. He was not speaking tongue in cheek when He declared His followers were to “love their enemies and bless those who cursed them.”
As Jesus said:
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God (Matthew 5:18 NIV)
As a follower of Jesus I believe September 11th and every day since that dark attack on America has created the backdrop where the light can shine the brightest. Hatred and revenge will not change the world. Burning books of other faiths will not stop their spread it will only make us look afraid, vindictive, and small.
As followers of Jesus memories of September 11th should call us to prayer, and inspire us to preach the gospel and live the gospel of Jesus. I pray Terry Jones will repent and change his mind. I pray he will lay down his matches, and his rhetoric of hatred, and take seriously the claims of Christ.
Jesus did not kill to change the world–He died to change the world. We would be wise to follow His example.