January 19, Thursday

Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor, Ph.D.) will present a series of blogs, dealing with various issues raised in the recent election that showed a deep divide, impacting both society at large and the church.  The thoughts presented are processed through the lens of the Radical-Middle (both/and), personal narratives, and pastoral concerns.  Your rational feedback is welcomed.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

To Register or Not Register Muslims

Esther 3:8-11 (NIV)

Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. 9 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.” 10 Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said to Haman, “The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please.”

19On the heels of a deadly mass shooting in Southern California by a radicalized Muslim couple in December 2015, the then candidate Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”  But what really concerned the Muslims living in the U.S. was Trump’s suggestion to create a database of them, so as to better track suspicious Muslims and detain the radicalized ones before they strike.   Now, most of us would agree that the threat of violence by radicalized Muslims in America, regardless of their number, is real—unless one is an ideologue who even refuses to use the term “Radical Islam.” The question is, then, whether restraining Muslim immigration and keeping a registry of Muslims in the states is a useful and just measure.

While there isn’t any comparable situation in the Scriptures, the above passage can shed some light on the matter.  Haman, a highly-ranked official in Persian Empire, who belonged to the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:1-9), an archenemy of Israel (Deut. 25:17-9), plotted to single out the Jews and then exterminate them.   While no sane person would dare to equate this situation with ours, one similarity needs to be noted: singling out one group from the larger society because of one’s ethnicity or religion.  Historically, that sort of distinction—such as Hitler singling out the Jews in Germany and Franklin Roosevelt singling out the Japanese in America—has not ended well.

At the same time, since American citizens have consented to relinquishing some of their freedom and submitting to the governing authority in exchange for protection, they are within their rights to expect the government to stop playing with words and do something substantial to reduce the possibility of terror.  So what does that mean?  First, the citizens have the right to expect the government to improve the vetting process to keep the radicalized Muslims from entering the American soil, but without restraining Muslim immigration itself.  Any extra measures taken to ensure this outcome may slow down the immigration process in general, but that is par for the course.   Second, while preventing every act of terrorism by radicalized Muslims is an impossible task, perhaps, what travelers are told to do in airports can be extended to the society at large: “If you see something, say something.”  Perhaps a hotline can be established to make it easier to report those who make terroristic threats in the name of Allah, after which, the allegations can be vigorously and fairly pursued by the respective agencies.

Meanwhile, we pray for a safer America for all law-abiding citizens—which certainly include Muslims (except for a few radicalized ones) whom God of the Bible cares for (Acts 14:17) and loves (Jn. 3:16).

Prayer: Father, we pray for a safer America where people of all races, ethnicities and religions can live peacefully.  While we lift up those of the Islamic faith in America so that none of them would attacked or insulted by misguided individuals, we pray against the Radicalized Islam and its acts of terrorism.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 18


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Romans 12:16-8: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Questions to Consider

  1. Which part of this passage is more relevant to embodying the kind of commitment that the Christians must have in order to love those of other faiths?
  2. What attitude or perspective is needed for non-Muslim Americans in order to live at peace with the Muslims in America?
  3. What attitude or measure is needed for Muslims in America in order to live at peace with those who are not Muslims in America?

Notes

  1. I think “live in harmony with one another” and “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” are more relevant to embodying the kind of commitment that we need in order to love those of other faith.
  2. One necessary attitude/perspective is to see that the predominant majority of Muslims in America are peaceful and decent people, who care about the welfare of the American society.
  3. One necessary attitude/measure is to condemn, unequivocally and swiftly, any acts of terrorism committed by Radicalized Muslims, whether home or abroad.

EVENING REFLECTION

Looking back to your day, did you see or talk to a person of Islamic faith at school or office?  Offer an earnest prayer on his or her behalf—pray for that person so he/she would experience the fullest measure of God’s common grace.  Pray that that person would one day realize that Jesus is not just a prophet but the Son of God.

John 20:31: These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s