"The Pendulum Swing: From Koran Burning to Religious Tolerance"
by Anthony Polenski
It seems to me that we as humans often swing like a pendulum from one extreme to the other, never arriving at the truth that is "the heart of God" that lies somewhere in between. I have thought about this concept over the last few years after my pastor at the Village Church here in the suburbs of Dallas, Matt Chandler gave a sermon on the subject. He spoke of the pendulum swing that we as Christians often times fall into in a variety of areas. One example is when we as Christians can become "self loathing" and then swing to the other end which is"self righteousness." Meaning either were doing all the right things and nothing seems to be going our way so we become "self loathing" adopting a "woe is me" type attitude, or we are doing all the right things, and therefore we become self righteous and unable to sympathize with those who are struggling in their walk with Christ, adopting a "superChristian" mentality.
Another example is the swing from "legalism" to "license". We are either "legalistic" in our walk living under the law, and not at the feet of Gods throne of grace, rarely offering forgiveness to those that are failing in their walk with the Lord. Or, we live with a license, believing that we can live in habitual sin, because we have been forgiven, and a life that lacks obedience to the commands of God. Both ends of the spectrum are equally sinful and I believe that Gods true desire for us lies somewhere in between. All that to say, these examples were simply for the purpose of writing about some events that have taken place in the church over the last week that I felt prompted by the Lord to address.
The first is the recent Koran burning incident. This idea has been addressed and debated over for many days now. I must say that in this world today, it is difficult to live as a Christian. It is a challenge to have the right response to the "hatred & decay" that we see taking place in our society and in the church at large. Sometimes it seems as though there isn't a right response. But there is. The pastor Terry Jones takes us to one end of the spectrum; called the town of "Hate" Romans 12:17-21 says, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. On the contrary:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."
Anyone who responds to "Islam" by burning Korans is not seeking to "live at peace" with everyone. They are not "feeding their enemy" when he is hungry, or "giving him something to drink" when he is thirsty. They are seeking their own revenge out of their own sinful flesh. And most importantly, they are not leaving room for "Gods wrath." Instead, they themselves are placing themselves under it. Hebrews 10:31 says "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." We must overcome evil with good. Burning Korans will not display to a lost people the love of Christ. Instead, it reveals to all the depravity of man, but unfortunately it does so in the name of Christ. This end of the spectrum is just as sinful as the other end of the spectrum which lies in a town called "Tolerance"
I came across an article that I felt the Lord say, "Anthony, do you see, this viewpoint is equally sinful to the man who desires to burn the Koran. The following example is what happens when we travel from the town of "hate" to the town of "tolerance". I read the following headline yesterday online:
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Catholic archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., told CNSNews.com the following: "If a person sees the Koran as proof of God’s presence in the world, then I cannot say, ‘Don’t embrace the Koran.’”
I was utterly shocked by the tolerance and ignorance of this archbishop. We live in a culture of "tolerance" and one that believes that no "ultimate reality or truth" can be known by us as humans. Many believe that no one truth exists, and that everyones truth is his or her own truth. This idea is from them devil because the fact that they are saying that ultimate truth cannot be known, is making a claim about ultimate reality that they themselves say cannot exist. As Christians, we must share the gospel to all, including muslims. But if we just accept the Koran, and its contradictory teachings as "proof of Gods presence in the world to some" we confuse people as to the true nature and character of our loving Heavenly Father. The Koran IS NOT proof of Gods presence in the world. It is evidence of the truth that we as humans still worship false Gods, and that we are absolutely and uttlerly depraved, and in desperate need of salvation, a salvation that comes only by the blood and cross of Jesus Christ. Habakkuk 2:18 says"Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
We must not "repay evil for evil" in the town of "Hate" by burning the Koran, but we must not worship false Gods in the town of "Tolerance" either. Both examples above display the pendulum swing from one extreme to another. We as humans choose to call all forms of worship" acceptable" or we "burn" things we dont believe to be true. We must find the heart of God that lies in a town called "Truth" that lies somewhere in between. This can only happen by constant meditation on the Word of God and through prayer. I believe that the right response to the stories above is to "preach the Gospel." Period. We must share with others of Gods perfect holiness, mans depravity, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that no one is good but God alone, and that in His great compassion, sovereignty, love, and mercy, he sent his only Son to die upon the cross so that we could be set free from "slavery to sin" and the "bondage of idolotry. We must take a stand against false Gods whether they be Allah or Buddha. But we must take it a step further. We must take a stand against a false "Jesus Christ" as well. Jesus Christ does not "burn korans" to lead others to him. He simply says in Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. It is his love that will lead others to repentance. At the same time, Jesus Christ does not accept the "Koran" as proof of Gods presence in the world. HE is proof of Gods presence in the world. Nothing else. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Look up, our redemption draweth nigh.