Burn a Koran Day – The Ultimate Lesson to be Drawn
What on earth is happening these days? How can the threat of one man to burn a book spark a global outcry among millions, ordinary people and high profile politicians alike? Why does the very announcement of setting alight printed paper send shivers of fear down the spine of military leaders?1 Is my mother-in-law right when she said, ‘the world is a mental asylum and we all are regularly moving in and out of it?’
As a follower of Jesus according to the Bible (I hesitate to call myself an evangelical Christian for fear of being associated with the book burner) I do not agree with those who want to burn a Koran. I believe that there are many better ways of engaging with Muslims then to offend them in such blatant ways. But is that really the burning issue, excuse the pun?
Christians in Muslim majority countries will be in danger of suffering renewed persecution as a result of the totally insensitive actions of some who live comfortable lives in the West. This is indeed very tragic. Neither will what surrounds the ‘burn a Koran day’ help to improve relationships and understanding between Christians and Muslims in the world in general. But is there yet another dimension to this unfolding tragedy?
What should be our response to all this? My wife and I turned the question into a prayer. A few minutes later she said: “Maybe it is not really about Muslims but about us.”
She is right! Whenever something bad happens, be it disputes, the collapse of banks, the rise of crime rates or wars, we criticize those we think are responsible for our misery. While there is certainly a time for this we must not forget the bigger picture. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all agree that pain only entered God’s perfect world as a result of man’s disobedience and rebellion against his Creator.2 The Bible repeatedly3 warns about impending judgment of those who would not follow His ways.
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:1)
Words like ‘burning’ and ‘fire’ sometimes talk about God’s wrath, often directed towards his own, unruly people. However, Jesus warns us not to lose ourselves in analyzing the evil that happens in this world but to concentrate on the state of our own souls instead:
“Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:4-9)
Sadly, today many of us who call themselves Christians have become like that fig tree, bearing no fruit. We are asked to repent, to turn around from our own selfish ways. In seeking forgiveness and doing what Jesus commands we will bear fruit:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
Along with my wife I firmly believe that the ultimate lesson to be drawn from the ‘burn a Koran day’ is for us Christians to repent and to be a light that will eventually cast out all kinds of darkness. We are asked to produce fruit, by the power of God, which is so attractive that others long to have it in their own lives. Only then will they be willing to replace what they perceive to be ‘good’ if we can introduce them to what is ‘better,’ the Gospel.
What will you now do after reading this? Ask the Lord to show you where you need to repent. How about discussing the content of this article with your friends, neighbours and those at work? If you are a Christian seek out Muslims and talk to them about it. If you would like more advice on how to do that in culturally appropriate ways, or if you have any comments on this article please contact the author at: oskar1(at)live.co.uk