By now, most people have at least heard about the wackadoodle pastor in Florida who wants to burn about 200 copies of the Quran. As of the writing of this post, he is “seriously considering not burning the Qurans.” (cnn.com)
The initial response to this guy is the easy one: “What an idiot.”
But the more difficult question is how I would love him or any other religious extremist? For me, the fact that he claims to be Christian doesn’t make it easier. In fact, I think it’s actually more difficult because this one claims to follow the same God of the Bible that I do.
In light of Jesus’ commission to love others and do to them as I would have them do to me, if I were that pastor, I would have you wack me over the head with a stupid stick and say, “Wake up, moron!”
Here’s the rub: there are more “Christians” like him. Just like there are radical Muslims who want to burn things up to make a point that no one wants to hear. In fact, sometimes I wonder if these two groups should just be put in a room with no weapons and let them beat the bloody hell out of each other until they realize the emptiness of it all.
This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time we have someone misrepresent Christ and get a ton of media attention for it. It has happened throughout church history; racists, hate-dealers, money-changers, and manipulators all get the headlines. The important question for me is more about how I respond to those who fit into this hard-to-love category. Jesus gave no lines to determine at what point we are “off the hook” when it comes to love. He just told us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
It’s clear to me that the Quran-hating pastor in Florida has no discernment or wisdom on how to be Jesus to those of other religions. What has not been instantly clear to me is how I process a situation like this without embittering myself further over the behavior of 2-percenters.
I suppose my first Gospel act in this matter is to pray for him and those he has thoroughly pissed off. I’m finding that a little more difficult than I would hope.