This week’s chapter from A.S.K is a question I did not expect…but an important one.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 5:38-48
TEXT: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43- 48)
Let’s not begin with comparisons and perceptions of what we think is happening, but let’s instead begin with what Christians are supposed to do. All people will know that we are the disciples of Christ if we have love for one another (John 13:35). If we see a brother or sister in need and have the means to help and don’t do so, then the love of God is not in us (1 John 3:17). It’s very clear.
But more than that Christians are to reflect their Father in heaven who makes his sun shine on the just and unjust – we are to do the same. We don’t just care for Christians we are to seek to care for as many of the needy as we can…
In the early church there is a fascinating letter from someone called Julian the Apostate – He writes as a hostile witness about the Christians;
“Why then do we think that this is sufficient and do not observe how the kindness of Christians to strangers, their care for the burial of their dead, and the sobriety of their lifestyle has done the most to advance their cause?….For it is disgraceful when no Jew is a beggar and the impious Galileans [the name given by Julian to Christians] support our poor in addition to their own;”
But let’s turn to what you are asking. You have observed that Muslims seem to look after their own better than Christians. I’m sure that is true in some cases, but I would be careful about making or accepting such a generalisation. We are to look after our own – but the Christian is held to a higher standard…not only are we to try and care for others, but we are also to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
The Koran says “And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:33-34)
That seems fine, but the problem is that there are over 100 verses in the Koran which encourage Muslims to fight their enemy – Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.” It is a very different standard.
The Christian command is, as the late Christopher Hitchens pointed out, a ridiculous and impossible command. Indeed it could even be dangerous. But that is what we are to do. We believe that God, and God alone, will be the Judge on the final day. Meanwhile we are to turn the other cheek and to seek the good of those who attack us. That doesn’t mean that we can’t defend ourselves or those we love, but it does mean we don’t seek revenge and we don’t hate anyone. This is the real radical love that turns the world upside down. This is the perfection of the Father.
One final thought – when you complain about the lack of love in the church, you may well be right. But as a Christian you have the opportunity to do something about that. You can show and grow in love and provide some of what is missing. We can all grow in love.
CONSIDER: Do you think it is true that Muslims show more love to Muslims than Christians do to Christians? Why do you think that is? What is the higher standard that Christians are to seek to live up to? What do you think can help us to live to that standard?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:
Revolution of Love and Balance – George Verwer.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Nabeel Qureshi
PRAYER: O God who is Love, we acknowledge how far short we fall in the standards you call us to. Help us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, help us to love the people in your world and help us to love those who are our enemies. Fill us with your love, that we may share and show that in the church and in the world, in your name, Amen
You can order A.S.K at
Or better still go into your local bookshop and order it….there are bulk discounts as well from Ten of Those