This is my response to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East that was sparked by a supposedly anti-Muslim video found on YouTube. As a disclaimer, I have not seen the video as of this writing.
First of all, let me state that I serve a Lord who was crucified. I serve a Lord who said even though His followers would also be persecuted that we are to “turn the other cheek.” My faith is in Christ, and my religion is love. Not everyone who bears Christ’s name truly represents Him, and I sincerely apologize for that. I know I don’t always live up to my calling either, and I ask you for your forgiveness.
Likewise, I was born and raised in a county that strongly believes in the freedom of speech. The same freedom that protects me as I worship my God also protects those who ridicule my God – but I have been called by my Lord to “turn the other cheek” and to “love my neighbor as myself.” Jesus even goes on to say that Christians are to love their enemies as brothers and sisters.
This freedom is not found in paper documents or in religious doctrines; this freedom can only be found in the heart. To those who are supporting and even committing these terrible acts of violence in North Africa and the Middle East, I want to say that I love you, my Lord loves you and you have a choice in how you respond to ridicule. The idea of freedom of speech allows for all people to choose who to listen to and who to ignore. This system, for the most part, weeds out all the bad nuts. Yes, very hurtful things will be said in name of God and country, but those hateful messages represent neither.
The condemning of whole peoples because of the hurtful words and actions of a messed up minority, by both my leaders and yours, is always and unequivocally wrong. The proper response to ridicule and persecution is love and grace. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He prayed for forgiveness for those who put Him up there. That is my challenge to you in the North Africa and the Middle East – pray for forgiveness for those who despise and disrespect you. You will not win sympathy from the international community by lashing out through violent acts. You have my love and my prayers, but please stop the killing of innocent people.
The vile actions of one man should not condemn a whole people. I am truly sorry that so many people in my country and who subscribe to my religion have committed the same crime by condemning you. I have great respect for the discipline and passion of Islam, but the systematic acts of violence are casting a dark shadow on your faith. Please take a stand for love and unity rather than hate and violence – I will then stand with you as your brother. Until then, you have my prayers.