Well, pastor Terry Jones has certainly been in the news a lot lately. He was going to burn the Koran, then he might, now he might not … depending upon who is reporting it. Rumor has it that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, the church whose claim to fame is protesting military funerals, might now take up the cause (so to speak) and do the Koran burning.
I won’t bother to try and untangle the hypocrisy of both the right and the left in all of this. One side seems to want to build a mosque but stop a Koran burning, while the other is just the opposite. What you really have is that both sides want to have their cake and eat it too. They talk about a person’s rights, but it seems to matter a lot whose rights are being discussed. They are bowing to popular opinion instead of sticking to principles.
On this controversy, COGWriter Robert Thiel wrote in an article for Church of God News “Build a Mosque? Burn a Q’uran? Blessed are the Peacemakers”:
Both the proposed builders of the “Islamic Community Center” (the ground zero mosque) and the proposed burner of the Q’uran claim that they have the right under the Constitution of the United States of America to do what they wish to do.
And both are correct. Constitutionally, they both have that right.
Well, yes and no. In reality, zoning laws have been used in the past to keep strip clubs and churches alike from building on specific lots without violating First Ammendment rights. While no one can stop you from building a church or a mosque, they can keep you from doing so on a specific spot.
Thiel goes on and makes some excellent points in his piece, though, so if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you take a look.
Rather than repeat his points, I’d like you to consider the proposed Koran burning in a similar vein but coming from a different angle.
So, following the same logic that Thiel used, “What would Jesus do?”
I submit to you that Jesus would say His Kingdom is not of this world. When He stated this, it was when He was about to be crucified. Even when facing death, Jesus not only did not revile, but He stated that His disciples would not participate in the world’s system of doing things.
36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18:36, King James Version)
This verse has been interpreted by the COG over the years to mean true Christians do not take up arms in the military and do not get involved in worldly politics.
I wrote some time back about “Comparison of COG to Evangelicals, Part 1”. This is another difference between the Church of God and evangelicals. Many of them came through the “Moral Majority” movement where political involvement was not only seen as a right of Christians but a duty. The COG teaches that political involvement only gets one dirty, and you may find yourself unintentionally working against the will of God.
Jesus continually pointed to the Father. Jesus continually looked forward to the Kingdom. In fact, His message was about that Kingdom. It was called the “Gospel of the Kingdom”. It’s pretty easy to go to www.biblegateway.com and type into the search box “gospel kingdom” and see all the references. I’ll let God’s word speak for itself.
The point is that our focus is not on the here and now. Our focus should be on the Kingdom. Our message should be about the Kingdom. Keeping the Sabbath, keeping the holy days, all point to the time of the Kingdom and how God will get us there.
We are to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”
The Jews returned from Babylon, and the Bible seems pretty silent about them burning any Babylonian astrological charts. Jesus lived in Judea, a vassal of Rome. I don’t seem Him advocating burning the works of either Varro or Ovid. Paul went to Athens and rather than proclaiming a burning of the Iliad he proclaimed the One True God to the Athenians.
There is a bigger lesson in all of this – one that antinomian critics and Pharisaical types alike will miss/ignore. God is calling for those who will voluntarily come to Him. God is calling for those who desire righteousness.
In fact, so many missed this lesson in the 1990s. God is not looking for those who need to be forced to keep His Laws. God is not looking for those who require loopholes or permission to break His commandments. God is not looking for those who consider His ways grievous or burdensome. God is looking for those who will do their best to be self-governing. God is looking for those who truly understand that love is the primary focus and the reason why we keep the commandments to the best of our ability.
Burning the Koran does nothing to serve that end. If anything, it only causes emotional outbursts that will push reason to the wayside. It causes a stumbling block to be placed before Muslims that may keep even the moderates from considering Christianity, the authenticity of the Bible or raise awareness of the warnings of prophecy.
I intentionally waited until after my congregation's Sabbath service to comment on this. I wanted to hear what the Pastor and members said — and to be honest, I took a camera in case someone planned to do something to a Koran.
The Pastor mentioned the Koran-burning fuss only briefly during announcements. "He has the right to do that," he said of the Florida pastor — then added people can be tossed in jail in Saudi Arabia for carrying more than one Bible. This article seems to back up such claims.
The sermonette speaker never mentioned Koran-burning — but he told me privately afterward he wished the Florida minister had gone ahead with it.
From a Kingdom perspective — after Jesus comes, will there be Korans? I somehow doubt it.
Richard said: "to be honest, I took a camera in case someone planned to do something to a Koran."
Sometimes I'm not sure if you are joking or not. In either event, you appear to attend with an "interesting" congregation.
From what I've seen of those who attend UCG, I would say your sermonette speaker is in the minority. I know one on FB even called Terry Jones an "idiot". I initially thought that was a little harsh. After seeing some interviews with him, though, I can see where one might come to that conclusion.
That sermonette speaker is part of the reason why I took a camera.
This is a congregation which has held outdoor target shooting at church picnics. Where people sometimes bring firearms to services, and show them off to friends in the parking lot. And where the pastor urged the congregation during the 2000 campaign to "pray for George W. Bush to win the election." (I stayed away the next week, over that last one.)