Religious fanaticism needs to be confronted and denounced no matter where it originates or operates. Christ is the Prince of Peace and we, as Christians, have a holy calling and distinct obligation to seek reconciliation and promote His peaceable Kingdom throughout the world.
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Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
Yesterday, I read an article about a Muslim cleric in Britain who is calling for Sharia laws to be upheld by British courts. He preaches vehemently and insists that thieves, male or female, should have their hands cut off, and that unmarried couples who have sex should be publicly flogged.
Meanwhile, over here in Oklahoma, a Baptist Church is giving away a semi-automatic assault rifle as a door prize at a YOUTH Conference.
What on earth is going on? And why isn’t God doing something about these fanatics?
We live in troubled times. I know that I can be ornery and stubborn when it comes to faith matters, but I would never dream of calling for punishing amputations or giving teenagers a machine gun. These people, pastors, and clerics are crazy and no matter how zealous they are for Allah or the Second Amendment, this is not faith as Jesus would have described it; this is religious fanaticism at its worst and we should all denounce it as an evil under the sun.
No wonder so many people get turned off by religion these days. If worshipping God turns us into limb-hacking, gun-toting devotees, then we should avoid it at all costs. Human history is littered with enough corpses attributed to religious fanaticism. We don’t need another Holy War, genocidal jihad, or holocaustic crusade to glorify God. I’m sure He’s just as sick as we are with those who use His Name to maim or murder infidels and sinners. After all, the world painfully tortured and unjustly killed His Son on a cross – no more blood needs to be shed to reconcile, redeem, and restore humanity to God’s holiness.
The challenge for us today is to stand up to these belligerent bullies and misguided maniacs by promoting the peace of Christ in our lives. After all, if the world does not see the Jesus within us through our outward acts of mercy and grace, then fanaticism will contaminate our communities and put this planet in peril for generations to come.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to find the high ground and empower us to effectively confront religious fanaticism without ourselves becoming vitriolic vigilantes or malicious messengers. Keep us on Your path to peace and reconciliation, without becoming appeasers or enablers to those who would forcefully oppress us with their fanaticisms. In Your Holy Name, we earnestly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.