This September 11, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we and the dear and gracious people of the Memphis Islamic Center will be cooperating with the American Red Cross in a blood drive. The number of people from Heartsong and MIC that have shown interest in being a part of this is impressive.
On the day a decade ago when so many senselessly lost lives due to fear and ignorance hardened into hatred, we are sharing life with each other, and with all those who will benefit from our gifts to them. For Heartsong it is a witness to our faith. I’m confident that the reason for MIC doing it is the same, but that is for them to say. We are offering ourselves as a witness to the love of Jesus for all people, and as a gift to those who will need the blood we offer.
On a day when so much blood was lost, we will be sharing life through the offering of part of our own lives. We mean this to be a public witness, not to garner publicity for what we are doing, but to use the opportunity to show the love of Jesus in yet another tangible and costly way. Ultimately for us, this is a gift to our Lord, who shed his blood as a means of giving life to us.
Last September the simple witness we made in loving our Muslim neighbors at MIC literally saved lives, and changed the world. As was true last year, this is a story we want to get out locally, nationally and world wide. We do it to offer an alternative to the mindless hatred that is still rampant in the world and seizes the headlines. We pray the Lord uses this to help many find their way safely home to him and his tribe. Our hope is that by sharing life with others who need it, along with our neighbors at MIC, we may cause those who are looking for some sanity and love in this world to consider opening their hearts and minds to Jesus and giving him a real try and making an offering of themselves to their neighbors for Christ’s sake.
We are making plans for this to be a safe, joyful, graceful and loving event. Please pray for just that to happen. You can make your stand with us by giving blood if you can, and by making every effort to be in one of the celebrations at Heartsong that Sunday. The theme of the Red Cross for all of their blood drives is: Sharing Life-love, give, live. We join with them and with MIC in this act of loving our neighbors.
It amazes me how people can claim to be following Jesus and be so full of hate. It’s easy to mention the misguided folks at Westboro Baptist (who shame not only the name Jesus, but also the name Baptist) with their picketing of funerals with their “God hates fags” signs. But there are many others who claim to follow the Lord of love, but spew vitriol in his name. That must just make him tear his hair out. He took on being human, walked the earth, suffered as we all have and spent his life teaching and showing that love is the most important thing in the universe, and then he died and rose again to prove that love, true love, love as defined by God is the most powerful force in the universe. For Jesus it was all love all the time for everyone in every situation at all costs-for him even at the cost of his life.
And he calls all who follow him into life to love in just the same indiscriminate and outrageous and self sacrificing way. When it comes to following Jesus we really need to check our hate at the door.
This is stirring in me because of what someone wrote about me yesterday. I had given an interview to Joel Richardson, which was bought by World News Daily. They titled the article, “Muslims and Us: Worshiping The Same God?” The interview is fair and I would encourage you to check it out, but the comments were scary. The one that most struck me was (and I quote it exactly as it was written): There God is a God of hate, ours is a God of love…There is a special hell for pastors like this.” Really? That comes from the heart and mind and soul of one who claims to follow the God of love? If he were really following the God of love wouldn’t he pray that I be converted to his religion rather than burning for eternity? His statement would be funny if it were not so sadly ironic.
Some people may think I beat up on religion too much. Religion is rules and regulations made up by human beings to try and control other human beings. If there are those who can comfortably feel this way and think they are in line with the teaching of Jesus I don’t think I’m beating up on it enough. If there are any who think being religious has anything to do with following Jesus and that is keeping them from checking him out, I’m not beating up on religion enough.
If we are going to really follow Jesus, and not just some religion that takes his name, we need to check our hate at the door-all of it-anytime it wells up in us-for anyone-anytime. And just so you understand what I mean by checking it at the door, in John 10:7, Jesus says he is the door for his sheep, for those who recognize his voice and follow him. He is the door. We all need to check our hate there.
I hope there is a special place in….heaven for the one who hopes there is a special place in hell for me. That special place in heaven would be a confessional booth where he could confess his sins against his God and his fellow men and women, and be relieved of the burden of having done those things. He can have it just after I get through with it.