About a week ago I posted on Facebook the cartoon attached below. I did so because I thought it was clever and quite challenging. Also because I agree with it.
However, almost immediately comments were left that the cartoon was not funny, but also that it was arrogant, judgemental, hateful, prejudiced and unnecessary beyond belief. The Crusades then became the topic of discussion, along with the fact that radical Christians of today bomb abortion clinics and have previously slaughtered thousands of innocent women and children. It was also claimed that more people have died in the name of Christianity than all the major wars put together (which is plainly untrue) and at one stage I was told that I had better watch out or else I might also be gunned down.
To quote a popular Internet Meme, “Well that escalated quickly”.
Of course there were many other positive comments, some of which attempted to argue with the above ideas, but that is not the reason I am writing this post. My purpose for writing this post is that in and amongst the comments was one commentator named Juan who patiently and continually tried to steer the conversation back to what I consider the incredibly insightful and main point of the cartoon:
To radically follow Mohammed and do as he did could involve the death of unbelievers. To radically follow Jesus and do as he did could not.
I do not pretend to be an expert on either Christian or Islamic theology, and I acknowledge my own possible Christian bias, (given the fact that I am a Christian), but there is a huge difference between what people are prepared to die for and what people are prepared to kill for.
One clear example of this comes from the night that Jesus was betrayed. The chief priests and elders of the people, along with Judas came out to seize and arrest Jesus (the beginning of his sham trials and crucifixion). Peter, who was with Jesus, drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus said to him immediately “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:47-56, Luke 22:47-53, Mark 14:43-50).
Later when Jesus was being questioned by Pontius Pilate, Jesus answered “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world”.
Jesus was not prepared to kill or fight or struggle or to ‘take the sword’, and made it specifically clear that his followers were not to do so either. Jesus told his followers that:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13)
Jesus was not just a sayer, but also a doer. He did in fact lay down his life for his friends but not only his friends. The true message of Christianity comes from the fact that Jesus also lay down his life for his enemies.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
That is while we were enemies, while we were sinners, Christ died for us. This is the extraordinary view of Jesus. In my view it is entirely different and radical compared to every other religion, political group, and cultural organisation that has ever existed. People who have done terrible things in the name of Christianity have done so in spite of Jesus’ teaching and example, not because of them.
Sorry if people are offended by this picture, but I am not sorry for this picture – it depicts a truth and a challenge for us all.
Again via the ever insightful and clever Adam4d