Hearts and Minds

I am not your typical Christian, if there is such a creature. I’ve read the Bible a few times, the New Testament several, from which I believe I understand what God expects of me.

There are some parts which may be more significant than others, I shed tears when I get to Acts 5:30 “30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Jesus’ words are the most important part, and his most profound and simple message is expressed in “The Sermon on the Mount,” recounted in the various gospels, of which I prefer the writing of Matthew. In Matthew’s fifth chapter, verse 17, Jesus says “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (emphasis mine).” He makes several examples of a “that was then, this is now” nature, culminating with my favorite verses; “43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew finishes with Jesus’ final instructions in his 28th cahpter “19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

This is the call to proselytize, the foundation of mission work. Note that Jesus told the disciples to “teach,” not belittle the beliefs held by others, or torture them into submission. One definition of “proselytize” is “to advocate or promote (a belief or course of action).

Obviously, some people misunderstand Jesus’ gentle ways, missing the message of Matthew 10:14 “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

You can capture hearts with love, and minds with knowledge, but when you simply attack someone’s beliefs you should expect them to be defensive. If in your attack you misrepresent their beliefs, it’s time to go home. You lose. Think how you would respond to the same behavior. Offer the truth, and if you are turned away, turn away.

Presently the Muslim culture has been hijacked by terrorists, who distort their religion to justify acts of hatred and violence. So far the terrorists have been successful in convincing the Western world they represent Islam, routinely murdering any Muslims who dared to disagree. This is the forced conversion, from Islam to Al Qaeda, that results in resentment, and the eventual overthrow from within. Eventual.

Fearing the terrorists’ and their brand of Islam, Christian missions in the Arab word have flourished. This is not in response to Jesus’ call to teach, but true “Islamophobia.” Islam is not the problem, terrorism is. The two are different. Proselytizing as a political weapon is not what Jesus had in mind.

Recently I came across an article claiming pedophilia is a cornerstone of Islam. No, not any more than it is a cornerstone of Christianity. There are events in the Quran that could be called child molestation if they happened today, fortunately the Old Testament doesn’t mention ages in all that “begetting.”

Luke gives the most details about Jesus’ mother (Mary), from which it has been calculated she was 14 at the time of Jesus’ birth, and may have married Joseph at age 12. Judged in the same light as Islam, Christianity would include a cornerstone of child molestation.

We simply cannot judge a civilization of two thousand years ago by the standards of today. Are there Muslim pedophiles? No doubt in direct proportion to the number of Christian pedophiles. Oh, you’ve been in the same cave with the Pope? Pedophilia has more to do with power than sex. It is not an “American” problem, it is a “Human” problem.

When our missionaries attempt to convert Muslims by spreading lies about their religion, they are no different than the terrorists. Hearts and Minds follow attractive examples, Jesus (to me) is the best example of how to live. His message appeals to one third of the world’s population, he didn’t touch that many souls by lying to them.

Spreading lies and distortions are hate mongering. Anyone doing so in the name of any religion has missed the teachings of their religion. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t like that, and there is no avoiding his judgement. Our lives in this world are finite, choosing to live those lives opposed to God has consequences that last for eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 comments on “Hearts and Minds

  1. Mari Collier says:

    I can think two groups that would probably call for your blood after that. Nicely done. By the way, the “to fulfill the Law,” has always been emphasized in my church. He came not to judge,but to fulfill what God commanded for all of us. The loving the ones that hate you is the hardest part for humans. I am quite human. I know how difficult it is. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike R says:

      So true. And just as he fulfilled the law, which earned him complete righteousness and made him an acceptable sacrifice, he died in payment for those he came to redeem. What an amazing moment in history. Or as I should say HISstory. 🙂 And when he returns he will come in wrath and judgement beyond our imagination. It boggles my mind to think that he has spared his own from any wrath. Only eternal love for those that he has chosen to love, chosing to love because none of us are lovable, much less righteous. Satan, the adversary, never rests in his efforts to twist His teachings.

      My own denomination is very small and can only field a small number of missionaries to the Muslim world. A few months before 9/11 we lost 3 out of the 4 that we had in Turkey. They were slowly tortured and killed by a group of young men who had asked them to come to their apartment and teach them the Bible. And that is what they did, in a sense stronger than anything those young men could have imagined. Despite securing them to chairs and then slowly cutting off their ears, noses, and penises, before they eventually died, they unwittingly saw the love of God that did not destroy them on the spot. Only two years ago did the Turkish government act to arrest the men who are awaiting a trial that is probably never going to happen. It was the peaceful protest of 100,000’s of Turkish Christians that forced their hand and caused the final arrest. Of course, everything says that justice was not done and will not be carried out. But it will be. We still pray for those young Muslim men, that they would come to peace with God through Jesus Christ the very one who they have attempted to harm. For if they do not, they face a horrible fate at the hands of a holy and just God. We were unable to persuade the final missionary to ever leave Turkey, where he continue to work at the same small publishing house that the 4 operated, printing free Bibles and tracts to pass out, proclaiming the good news in Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mari Collier says:

        The tale of those young men is heartbreaking. Prayers for their families. Of course, the mainstream media will never publish that. Contrary to what many in this world believe, most people in church on a Sunday morning are there because they know they are sinners. It is my reason; that, and it is good to be in the House of the Lord.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mike R says:

          Thanks for the prayers, Mari. They are treasured. You are so right about why we are in church on Sunday morning. And what a blessing it is to be there. To be able to worship as the Church . . . to spiritually rise and join with God in communion . . .. is a wondrous and blessed thing.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike R says:

    Except for Jesus, himself, every man that has walked this earth as been a depraved and wicked being–prone to hating God and his neighbor. I suppose our favorite defense of our own evilness is to try to point to the evil in others. “Muslims are pedophiles” is a good example of such an effort.A And Christian American military men (among others) send down Hellfire missiles on village, burning the occupants alive if they are killed in the blast. They defend themselves by saying, “I am just following orders.” But as the NT tells us, “Jesus knew what was in the heart of man.”

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