Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Representing God

I’ve been meaning to post more of my thoughts about Brother Yun’s experiences in The Heavenly Man, but before I get to that I’ve just got to ask:

Has anyone else been counting down the days to CNN’s God’s Warriors report by Christiane Amanpour? Here in England it starts tonight at 7pm -- I’m not sure what time it’s airing where you are. (For an overview of the program, click on the link above and then select “God’s Warriors Show Trailer” under “Behind the Scenes”.)

As a woman who identifies herself as being in relationship with God through Jesus Christ more than a follower of the Christian religion, I’m interested in this report on several levels:

➢ All three religions believe in One God.
➢ All three religions trace their beginnings to Abraham.
➢ All three religions believe that God has clearly communicated His expectations for human behavior.
➢ All three religions believe that, having rejected God’s commands, society is a mess on a global scale.
➢ All three religions believe that, living in submission to God’s commands, they are His favored ones.
➢ All three religions believe that they have God’s solution for bringing peace and propriety to a world gone mad.
➢ All three religions believe that they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling as God works in them to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).

I’m particularly interested in how those who sincerely believe that they are God’s people have managed to alienate one another to the extent that we have. It seems to me that the world would be a lot less scary if we worked together rather than against one another!

In my opinion, here’s a small but significant way that we as women can start: Christian women who value modesty and desire to cultivate inner beauty (think Proverbs 31) have much in common with Muslim women who wear the hijab. By reaching out to one another, befriending one another, finding ways to serve one another, inviting one another into our lives and homes, gracefully giving to and receiving from one another, we’ll not only find a great sisterhood but we’ll also challenge those around us (and even ourselves) to rethink the stereotypes assumed in the name of religion.

I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to friendships with international women (and they to me) is that we share the traditional values of faith and family, modesty and kindness, moral and social responsibility. I’ve found that I have a lot more to talk about with believing women of other cultures/religions than I do with unbelieving women from my own culture. To be honest, it’s probably a bit of selfishness on my part that causes me to seek these friendships -- they’re deeply fulfilling and mutually supportive.

But it’s also a chance for me to share the love and light, peace and joy, hope and grace that I have because of the difference Jesus has made in me. This is my way of representing God, of living out His purpose for me as I understand it. And isn’t that what it means to be an ambassador for Him?

* * * * * * *
Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand -- shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 The Message)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister in Christ,
It is right to look for love and to give love, but also it is requird not to be naive. I read the story below, issued by the Branabas Fund.
Please read this and let me know what it tells you.
My E-mail is:

What is Islam?
31st July 2007

A shift has been taking place in UK government ministries as to the terminology used to describe the terrorist threat faced by Britain. The Foreign Office has advised ministers to abandon the use of terms such as “war against terror”, “Islamic terrorism” and “Islamist terrorism”. The idea is that these terms antagonise the British Muslim community and increase tensions with the wider Muslim world. Using military terminology is seen as counter-productive, contributing to the isolating of communities from each other. According to proponents of this shift, such terms imply a conflict of religions and link Islam, the religion of peace, with terrorism and radicalism. They hold that the widespread use of such terms serves only to alienate and radicalise more Muslims who would otherwise be happy to integrate into a cohesive British society. Terrorists, they believe , use the sense of crisis engendered by the discourse on a “clash of civilisations” and a “war against Islamic terrorism” to recruit supporters who feel that Islam is being attacked and that Muslims must defend themselves. Abandoning such terms, according to the Foreign Office, will avoid empowering the terrorists’ narrative and weaken the trend to radicalisation.

[1]Another strand of thinking, expressed by Sir Ken Macdonald, Director of Public Prosecutions, is that it is better to see acts of terrorism as being carried out by individual criminals. These can be efficiently handled by the police and courts and need no special terminology or methodology to deal with them. Macdonald sees a danger that contemporary terrorism might tempt Britain to abandon its values in a “fear-driven and inappropriate” response, leading to the abandonment of respect for fair trials and due process of law. According to Macdonald,
London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7, 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a 'war on terror', just as there can be no such thing as a 'war on drugs' . . . The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement

[2] In a Radio 4 “Start the Week” programme on 2 July 2007, the philosopher John Gray and the historian Eric Hobsbawm agreed that it was wrong, dangerous and unfair to use the term “Islamist” because it implied a strong link to Islam.

[3]Evidence of this new approach was present in the first Commons statement of the new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith on 2 July 2007. While stating that Britain would not be intimidated by acts of terror she rarely mentioned Muslims, preferring to say “community leaders” for leaders of the Muslim community and “communities” for the Muslim community. This was interpreted as part of the deliberate change of language by ministers.

[4] The new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in an interview following the attacks in London and Glasgow in late June, also avoided mentioning British Muslims, preferring to talk about al-Qaeda. His spokesman said the Prime Minister would avoid using the phrase “war on terror”.

[5] A European Commission guide for government spokesmen has recently been published which says that words such as “jihad”, “Islamic” or “fundamentalists” should be avoided in statements about terrorist attacks. It is thought that as a result, Brown asked Cabinet members not to mention the words “Muslim” and “terrorism” in the same context.

[6] Ex-Islamist radicals call for the reformation of Islam
Several Muslims who were involved in radical Islamist groups have recently rejected the radical ideologies.

[7] . Ed Husain came out of Hizb ut-Tahrir and Hassan Butt left al-Muhajiroun determined to warn the public of the dangers of Islamist groups and their ideology. Both see Islamism as an outgrowth of classical Islamic theology. They attack the position that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, arguing that denial blocks the possibility of reform. Muslims, they say, must acknowledge that there is a violent streak in Islam and that classical Islamic theology is a main engine of violence. They argue that the unwillingness of mainstream Islam in the UK to discuss the issue of violence within Islam allowed radical preachers to seize the high ground and recruit many young Muslims to their cause. Mainstream Muslims repeated the mantra that Islam is peace, denied the violent aspects of Islamic theology, and hoped the problems would disappear, thus leaving the field open for radicals and their ideologies.

[8] Muslims must cease ignoring the passages in Qur’an and Hadith which speak of killing unbelievers and challenge the centuries-old theology of jihad. Muslim scholars must refashion Islamic theology creating a reformed Islam for Muslims living in what Butt calls the land of co-existence. They must develop a new set of rules of rights and responsibilities which will enable Muslims to liberate themselves from ancient theological models that legitimised killing in the name of Islam.