How Would Jesus love a Muslim?Featured, Social Justice — By Emily Timbol on September 10, 2010 at 8:00 am
I recently wrote about my Grandfather de-friending me on Facebook because of conversations we had on the proposed Park 51 community center (aka Ground Zero Mosque.) I am happy to say that we have resolved the issue, resumed our Facebook friendship, and moved our embarrassing public arguments onto less controversial topics, like Focus on The Family. While he and I have been lucky enough to find common ground, it seems that others involved with this topic have not. I recently saw this article, which was reacting to photos of deactivated missiles that opponents of the community center are driving around, presumably in an attempt to give people a visual of the violence that they see the community center celebrating, or encouraging (or something.) Then of course, there is this event, where a pastor in Florida may or may not (he’s cancelled then said it’s back on) burn Qur’an’s this Saturday at his church, despite pleadings from politicians, celebrities, and Christian leaders not to. Perhaps he’ll listen to the warnings from General Petraeus that this event will encourage violence against our troops, or the message from Obama broad casted on national TV, or maybe even the one from Saint Angelina herself, but let’s pray he doesn’t go through with it. Sadly, all these events helped to provide me with an answer to a question that has been weighing heavy on my mind for the past few weeks.
Why, in the light of how the US government and it’s citizens have previously reacted to disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti, and the tsunami in Thailand, has so little attention been paid to the massive floods in Pakistan?
At first, I thought it was simply the nature of the disaster. Flooding is not as seemingly violent as a tsunami, earthquake, or hurricane, so it’s possible people assume Pakistan might not be as desperate for help. This is not true. As devastating as these other disasters were, they all pale in comparison to how huge of an impact the flooding on Pakistan has been to the people in that country. According to World Vision, 20 million people have been affected and six million are in desperate need of aid. Twenty million people is more than the entire population of Florida, and six million is about the population of Miami, so imagine if everyone in FL was homeless, jobless, and its largest city had people that were literally starving to death. One-fifth of the country is underwater. Think for a moment of a map of the US. Divide it into five sections. Now imagine if one section were gone, underwater, destroyed. Something like that would affect the entire world. This is exactly what is happening right now in Pakistan, yet when we turn on the news, go to our favorite websites, or stop to talk with our friends, the topic does not seem to come up.
The only explanation I can logically come to for the lack of US attention and aid is that unlike the previous disasters, this one happened to a country full of people we normally associate as “our enemies.” This disaster affects a country which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been rumored to harbor terrorists, and has within it an active element of Al-Queda. It is also a country in which Islam is the national religion.
At a time where nearly every politician feels the need to make his or her opinion known about a building two blocks away from Ground Zero known, is it so hard to believe that we as a country have a problem sending money to Muslims? Is there another explanation for why, with 20 million people homeless and struggling to survive, we haven’t seen even a glimmer of the attention that was paid by America to Haiti? I haven’t seen a single telethon or gotten one lousy text from someone urging me to send $10 to the Red Cross. Maybe it’s that I don’t have cable, or maybe it’s that people are struggling with how to react to a disaster affecting a nation accused of harboring terrorists.
The bigger question is one for Christians in the US. When we look at this verse -
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:42-45
- we have to ask ourselves, who was Jesus talking about here? Is it everyone in need? Even those who might want to cause us harm, if the tables were turned and they weren’t facing devastating floods ? Are we, as Christians, called to provide aid to people who are of a different religion, culture, color, and political ideology from us? If so, what does that mean for how we treat those “others” that we encounter every day who aren’t in need? How should this affect our opinion of “them” in general?
It’s (relatively) easy for us to send money or spend time raising awareness for people who are like us, kind to us, or close to us, but it is significantly harder to love those that in other situations we might be fighting against. If this is an opportunity for us as a people to put the Bible into action, and truly pour love out to our enemies, as Christ commanded us to, what kind of job are we doing?
Thankfully, it’s not too late. We can do something, whether it’s donating money or service to The Red Cross, dedicating active prayer time for the country, or aggressively tweeting at Kanye West to make a telethon appearance, there are things we can do to get involved.
This is an opportunity for the world to see the radical, backwards, loving message of Jesus. I can’t think of any better way to spread the Gospel than to show the world that the love of Christ reaches out to all people, regardless of skin color, nationality, religion, or politics. Let’s get started.