Maybe you’ve heard a mosque might be built near Ground Zero. This has raised a significant and I think important debate in America. And as you might guess, it has filled my inbox nearly every day with “what do you think about this” emails from politicians, pastors and business leaders. The questions raised are real.
One thing I’m sure of, at the heart of this discussion is how we view ourselves, others and ultimately the fabric and fiber of God’s Kingdom. It is NOT primarily a discussion about whether or not Muslims have the right to build a mosque there (or anywhere). It is NOT primarily a discussion about freedom of religion in America. I think those have been answered.
So what’s driving the passion in this debate? Why have Sarah Palin and Barack Obama weighed in? Why is every Christian author, speaker. Blogger in America writing about this? And what are they missing?
The Answer: they are doing exactly what the first 12 followers of Jesus did? Asking the wrong question about the wrong topic. They continued to ask right up until Jesus was taken back to heaven in Acts chapter one – “Are you going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
It was a question about David’s Kingdom. About Jewish rule. About the temple. It was a relevant, literal question. “When will we get to be in charge of our own destiny again.”
And they asked it often of Jesus. Throughout his three years with them. If you are the Messiah, the Savior, the Restorer of All, when is it going to happen and what will our position be in this Kingdom.
His answer has relevance to this discussion: “My kingdom is not of this world, it is within you.” Or his last answer before he left us was, “You will be filled with God’s Spirit and will be witnesses of me to everyone, everywhere.”
Once again, he didn’t really answer the question but redirected them to the real issue his kingdom. His rule. His way. That we would be filled with his spirit and be a witness. Not the judge. Not the jury. A witness. Simply telling what we’ve seen and heard and experienced. Witnesses.
So…what about the mosque? Do we make a fatal error when we care too much about a piece of property? Any property? I know of churches that have fought city councils for years in order to build a building somewhere. Are maybe it’s about “holy land” in the Middle East. Or an “unholy” mosque in NYC.
What if those of us who try to follow the way of Jesus would see this as a wonderful opportunity to love our fellow Americans (thus obeying the second half of the Great Commandment) and somehow see Jesus lifted up because this Mosque is built? What if Jesus were to fill that Mosque? What if we so loved these Muslims that are leading the effort that they asked some of us to visit? To even preach there? To lift up the name of Jesus INSIDE the mosque? And glorify God because of it. Why not?
Because the Kingdom of God is not held in, or withheld from, any building! It comes with those who are submitted to its King. Come King Jesus. In a Mosque. In a Church. In a Park. On the streets. Come.