E-pistle September 10

Blessed is Muhammad Musri

Who knows how this insane story will have unfolded further by the time you read this. The media-inspired international crisis that has put us on the edge of who-knows-what took a turn for the better yesterday when the Florida pastor with his tiny congregation and sign board on a country road outside Gainesville said he probably won’t go through with his planned Quran burning on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. 

Indeed, whatever happens, the media must take responsibility for the circus that this sad event has become. A New York Times reporter somewhat acknowledges his own paper’s culpability in the mess and the Times is not alone. Shame on them and their satellite trucks parked outside that pathetic little church building.
And whatever else happens, it seems that we will owe a debt of gratitude to Mohammad Musri, the imam who went to Terry Jones’ church just to talk.  This story tells a bit about what happened in the unplanned visit:  “We were able to break some ice and get some genuine conversation on his concerns,” Musri said. “I asked him, what would Jesus do in your position today? Would he love his neighbor? If we are your enemies, you are supposed to love your enemies. I think that resonated a bit.”
I know nothing more about Muhammad Musri than what we read in the news reports. I assume that he and I don’t agree on some important theological issues. I’d guess our world view is somewhat different. Our disagreement would not just be in matters of the mind; it would be a thing of the heart, as well. But it’s also very likely that as a pastor and an imam we’d agree on any number of things – the importance of family and morality, modest living and a heart open to the things of God.
There’s no question but that the differences between Christianity and Islam are profound, and, in the end, not all of them are reconcilable. One of the tasks of the modern world is to learn to live with those differences, not to pretend they don’t exist.
But for today, I am thankful, very thankful for Muhammad Musri. I’d like him to get to know Jesus more deeply than he does, but I am glad he knows Jesus well enough to know what Jesus might do in a situation that has put the world on edge. He knows about the command to love neighbor and enemies real or imagined.
Oh, and what else might Jesus do? I think he would bless Muhammad Musri.  Matthew 5:9.