Today I broke down and had a 'chocolate attack'. This is a phrase my mom made up for when I just HAD to have some candy or else I'd lose my mind. Chocolate attacks are brought on by stress, overthinking, overworking, or silliness. Today's chocolate attack was brought on by all 4. Daniel was gracious enough to take me to our grocery store to pick up some CHRISTMAS THEMED oreos. 

At the grocery store, I fell into a conversation with a kind man next to me who was debating over which half and half to get. Several jokes and lighthearted comments into our discussion about the tireless quest for healthy living, we began talking about our faith. He is a Muslim, and I am Christian. I listened to this new friend's story of being hated, misunderstood, and discriminated against by...southern Christians.

He told me the heinous story of a woman, a Christian, who began thwarting his social media posts and publicly arguing with him on his wall. With a grievous heart I wanted to apologize for the actions of my fellow brothers and sisters. The most I could muster up was a kind smile, and an exchange of information for further talks. 

I'm writing today with a heavy heart, because I think that faithfulness to the Gospel means standing up for the oppressed, even when it's ostracizing or uncomfortable. If for no other reason, I ask my readership to read my words with an open heart because I am your friend, and I'm asking you to. 

Why, as a Christian, I should care about the rights of Muslims:

1. When one religious group is threatened, it a threat to all religious groups. Martin Luther King puts it this way: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". 

To put is simply, the pioneers that would lead to the establishment of this country were originally Christians fleeing their homeland on account of religious persecution. If we allow any religious group, even one that we disagree with, to be threatened we are threatening religious freedom for all Americans. 

2. We are called to live in peace with our neighbors. 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:9-21

This passage was written to a group of Christians who were under persecution - in today's language you would call it terrorist attacks - by the Roman government. Even in the climate of such turbulence and insecurity, they were still called to live in peace and love their neighbors. 

3. We are called to welcome the foreigner into our land.

Remember when our people were persecuted under Egyptian rule and became slaves under Pharaoh? After all of that, God calls us to never mistreat others in the same way that we were mistreated when we were foreigners in another land. "Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt." - Exodus 22:21

4. We are called to be a light to all men. 

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

5. American Muslims are a deeply misunderstood people group, and should be handled with tremendous care for the sake of the Gospel. 

The reality is that most Christians don't know or understand a lot about Islam (like what the difference is between Islam and Muslim, Sunni and Shi'a, what a Hijab is, What the Qur'an is, What the Shariah Law book is and who abide by it.....) and so our national fear is not rooted in authentic information - but rather assumptions. Think about how Jesus handled the misunderstood. Anyone who was on the margins of society were embraced by Jesus and handled with care. 

6. Fear mongering often leads to the ostracizing or extinction of entire people groups.

In Nazi Germany a man put the fear of the Jewish people into his national agenda, and we all know where that led (concentration camps, the near extinction of the Jewish people). Fear mongering is a few slippery steps away from another genocide. 

7. We should seek to understand before we demonize. Consider the demonization of Jesus.  

Jesus was ultimately led to the cross because he was misunderstood. The reality is there is just a lot we don't know, or understand about Islam, and before we pick up a pitchfork, we should get to know who and what Islam represents, especially through conversing with and getting to know our Muslim neighbors. Let me be clear here; I don't think that if we become friends with Muslims that any Muslim (or Christian) will turn out to be blameless and holy like Jesus was. What I am saying is that Muslims are just humans, and many of them are seeking out the truth about God, just like Christians. One of my good friends was a Muslim and sought after God with all of his heart. In the end God showed him the Son of Man and he became a follower of Christ. Although I disagree with the theology of Islam and believe the Jesus is the only Son of God and the only way to God, Muslims are real people, with real stories, and should be handled with dignity and care. 

Thank you for your grace in reading even things that are hard to talk about. 

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