“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
It isn’t often that I address controversial subjects in this venue, but on occasion conscience requires it. This is one of those occasions.
A pastor—and, I assume, a brother in Christ—has proclaimed his intention to burn the Koran on 9/11. A second pastor—this one living in a Muslim country and most certainly a brother in Christ—has requested other believers to petition the first pastor to reconsider. Why? Because this public burning of the Koran will most certainly result in increased suffering for Christians in Muslim countries. That in itself should be enough to convince the first pastor not to go through with his plans. However, if that isn’t enough, what about the fact that it simply isn’t right?
Some years ago I served on a church staff, and we had weekly meetings to pray together and discuss various ministry issues. One day the senior pastor brought up something that several of us disagreed with (not a moral or biblical issue); one staff member voiced his disagreement aloud. The senior pastor, however, remained unchanged in his opinion. The staff member who had vocally disagreed later told me he had been ready to turn the situation into a heated debate when he sensed God telling him not to do so. The man argued silently with God, declaring that he knew he was right in his opinion. God’s Spirit then asked him a vital question: “Which is more important—to be right or to be righteous?” The staff member held his tongue.
I’ve thought about that many times, particularly lately when two issues have played predominant roles in the news. Do the supporters of the planned mosque at Ground Zero have a legal “right” to build it? Absolutely. Is it the righteous thing to do? Certainly not. Does that pastor have the legal right to burn Korans? Apparently so. Is it the righteous thing to do? I don’t believe it is.
Jesus instructed us to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” when dealing with a world that is antagonistic to the message of the gospel. It certainly seems that the issue of burning the Koran on 9/11 falls into that category and should be treated as such. I am praying accordingly; I hope you will consider doing the same.