Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Christian Holy Places and Shrines

There is an unexpected plus side to all the rioting, burning, killing and general mayhem caused by the radical Islamists as a result of their supposed anger at the publication of some cartoons depicting their prophet Muhammad. And that plus side is that it forces Christians (speaking for myself) to examine their own beliefs.

I was listening to a talk radio show awhile ago, and there was a discussion about how Christian holy places and shrines were planned targets of Muslim violence. I started thinking: What would Christians do if the places where Jesus lived and taught were destroyed by terrorists? Would we feel that it was an insult to Jesus? Would we feel compelled to avenge the desecration of our Christian holy places?

I tried to think of what some of our Christian holy places are: Bethlehem - where Jesus was born? Where the Sermon on the Mount occurred? The location of the Last Supper? Where the crucifixion occurred? What ARE Christianity's holy places? My mother will be aghast at my ignorance. My belief, though, has never been tied to physical locations or items. Any damage to those places would be a tragedy, but I would have no need to retaliate. God knows who did it. He knows their hearts. He will handle it.

How about desecration of The Bible? Would I consider that something that must be avenged? Again, my answer is no. It is just a book that contains the story upon which my beliefs are based. It is paper and ink, published by massive printing machines. My belief isn't based on physical places and items or other people's attitudes or actions towards God. God knows our hearts. He can handle any desecration or abuse directed towards him. He doesn't need my help in avenging Him.

He DOES need my help in spreading the word of our loving God - a god who wants the best for us and who takes us as we are and helps us to help ourselves and others: A joyous contrast to what we are seeing in Islam.

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