By now, you've probably heard much about the cartoon published in a Danish newspaper that depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. It was among a series the newspaper ran which angered Muslims worldwide and has ignited violence in several countries.
Last week, my sister asked if I planned to address the issue on H-n-T. I told her, "I thought about writing on how Jesus and God get made fun of all the time. But decided it would probably come off as too 'angry Christian.'"
That was half of the truth.
The other half is, I was shocked by my own response: Why don't more Christians get more angry when God, our Creator, is mocked? Why don't we stand up for Jesus--the one who was tortured and killed for us so we could have a relationship with God--when he's caricatured, dissed, and dismissed as a phony?
OK, I better state right here I wasn't of a violent mindset. I certainly don't believe in killing or hurting in the name of God--God tells us straight up in the Bible that revenge belongs to him. But I did think about how Jesus drove merchants out of a temple because they were desecrating God's house. Jesus literally kicked their butts.
I also thought of Jesus' example of love and tolerance, how he instructed us to do good to our enemies, to be peacemakers, to "turn the other cheek." And I've read some commentaries interpreting this last phrase in a number of ways: 1) as not getting angry when someone verbally insults you, 2) as being nonresistant to any physical abuse (pacifism), 3) as doing this to symbolically represent a call for equality (within historical context of Jesus' time), 4) as Jesus' command to not seek revenge ... . In other words, scholars confused me even more.
But let me get to what was really bothering me: the lack of passion and conviction we Christians often have about our faith. Are we so desensitized by anti-God, anti-Jesus, anti-Christian statements we don't bat an eyelash when we hear or see it? Are we so "tolerant" we let others tromp all over our faith, our God even, without a word in defense? Are we so afraid to speak about religion, one of those "taboo" subjects, we just clam up? Or is it that we're too lazy to get into a discussion in the first place because it requires thinking and patience?
Consider the last time you heard someone swear using God's name (it was probably today). Truthfully, I hardly notice anymore, and I hardly give it a second thought. And I can clearly remember a time when a co-worker was speaking venomously about "Jesus freaks." She and I were hanging out with a small group of co-workers, and they all laughed politely at her words. I stood there, silent, not wanting to aggravate this women because I liked her and we were becoming friends.
I still wonder, why didn't I speak up? If I truly wanted to be her friend, to know her and for her to know me, why didn't I simply say something like, "Yeah, I'm a Christian, and I can understand your frustration. Some Christians frustrate me, too."
Why are we so afraid to identify ourselves as Christians, to correct misconceptions about God and Christianity, to speak up when God and Jesus are insulted? All of these things can be done with love, tolerance, and diplomacy.
There's a photo of a Muslim protestor holding up a sign stating, "I sacrifice every thing for my prophet Mohammed." When I saw it, it hit me: I've sacrificed so very little for God and for Jesus. I've been unwilling to make unpopular statements. I've been unwilling to say things that are true because I didn't want to alienate friends. I've been unwilling to speak about subjects that might make me less likeable.
At the very least, I want to be willing to sacrifice my popularity, my personal comfort, and my ego. If I can't do these simple things, I might as well make my own sign that says, "I'm ashamed of Jesus. And please don't ask me about it."