This past week, Muslim extremists struck again. This time, the target was a Paris magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which made fun of the prophet Mohammed. Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of the magazine, made the bold statement, “He would rather die on his feet rather than live on his knees.” It made a good quote for the magazine, but when reality came, many others lost their lives, and the impact was felt around the world.
It is my understanding that the government of France had encouraged restraint of the magazine, but as a western nation, they defended his stand based upon the right to freedom of the press. I honor people willing to die for a cause. For me, the definition of a person’s life is not about what you live for, but what you are willing to die for. I know this is not an original statement, and I’m not sure where I heard it first, but the concept truly impacted my thinking. However, I have to admit that I am a little conflicted about the concept of freedom of the press being used as a guise to be disrespectful of a person’s faith. Satire often becomes a tool (not to comment on someone’s faith) to ridicule or demean people. Oftentimes, it appears these actions are motivated more by pride than a desire to instigate true debate.
WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?
The Christian Church is also under a great deal of persecution in these days by the pressure of culture. I think it is strange how we have lost our respect for religious beliefs and even God. I am very glad to say I am a follower of Jesus Christ! The life of Christ taught us to be very strong in our faith and at the same time, respectful of others. He promoted the concept of entering the kingdom of God. In Matthew chapter three, we can hear the voice of Jesus telling us to repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. The advancement of this Kingdom does not come with the human sword, but the sword of the Word. We need to understand the Kingdom of God is never under real threat because it is not dependant on human response. Our God sits on His throne whether people care to admit it our not. This separates us from other religions because God has not commissioned us to establish or expand His Kingdom. He has called us, like Jesus, to announce it and give people the opportunity to enter it. Since this Kingdom is so opposite of our human motivations, our struggle is not to establish this Kingdom, but to enter it! In Matthew chapter 11, Jesus said this concerning the Kingdom, “the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” This teaches us that our energy is not spent on fighting others, but resisting our own temptation to live in the flesh when we are called to walk in this spiritual Kingdom. Many Christians forget this because it is easier to fight the world than to resist temptation and human motivations. The way of the Spirit is contrary to the human condition! If we walk in the Spirit, we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit of God and be guided in the ways of victory for His Kingdom’s sake. What is the fruit God want to see in the church?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25 (NKJV)
As Christians, what a beautiful contrast we have to offer our world. I believe this to be the year of the “witness.” In this day, we will win the war of world opinion as we choose to follow God and enter His Kingdom! Will you join me in a bold proclamation for Christ and back it up with a lifestyle reflecting your heavenly perspective?