Last Sunday, as I drove to church, I noticed police cars on the road ahead, with flashing lights. It looked like a big accident or a crime scene, but when I got to the site I saw people coming out of the Islamic Center.
Muslims celebrate Eid, at the end of the fasting time of Ramadan, and the police were managing traffic and providing security. With crowds of people and busy parking lots at an Islamic center, the police were being careful.
So, are we supposed to tolerate those people? They were mostly new immigrants and most wore ethnic costumes from the old country. And they certainly have values that are different from mine.
So, should we tolerate them? No, certainly not.
I am a Christian and I follow the example of someone who loved us so much He died for us. Barely tolerating my neighbor is wrong for me.
What I give out must be in the higher levels of kindness, at least; God’s love is the language of Christians. This is not even a discussion, the Bible is blunt and clear “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4: 8)
The world is such a terrible place that “tolerance” is the highest level of good behavior with Politically Correct thinking. I am a good man if I barely tolerate other people. Even the Bible moderates our love in this world “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
So, what about the elephant in the room, Islamic extremism and terrorism? The news is filled with stories of people who blow things up, crash airplanes into buildings and you can add to the list. And when it happens someone yells “Allahu Akbar.”
The problem is so extreme that experts have statistics “In 2015 four Islamic extremist groups were responsible for 74% of all deaths from terrorism.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_terrorism)
We can’t ignore that, and we can’t tolerate it. There are security experts and many Muslims who need to wrestle with that problem. And there is something else we need to know; every religion everywhere isolates its members from the outside world. Usually that means a conference, or a monastery, or a Bible college; but there is a sinister side to this.
Some leaders will try to make the world reject their followers. You can probably think of some Christian group that has a dress code or antisocial behavior, and you probably leave them alone. That is what you are supposed to do.
I am convinced that Muslims extremists want us to hate Muslims. They want to keep us away from their members.
Ignore that advice.
God is love, and God has great spiritual power, and God lives in every Christian. That is what I believe. If I hate them, God will have to go around me and find some other way to bless them.
I had some training in Las Vegas a few months ago. Picture a large conference room with round tables and a large video screen. One of my table mates was a man named Mohamed, and one morning I said “Hey Mohamed!” I remember a look of fear on his face as he hunched over, and then I said “Good morning, how are you doing?” Other people at the table joined in and asked about his wife and kids, and if he had phoned home last night. We do that to keep each other out of trouble in Vegas.
Mohamed sat up straight and smiled. His relief was easy to see; he knew we didn’t hate him.
Let me recommend a question you should ask a Muslim. The question is “Coffee or tea?” and you could follow with “Do you want a doughnut with that?” Feel free to modify the words to fit your lifestyle but don’t lose the love.
The words of Jesus have not faded:
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 7 and 8)