Pastor Terry Jones thinks that Jesus would tell him to burn hundreds of Korans this Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, according to an interview with ABC’s Terry Moran. When Moran asked Jones if he thought that Jesus would say, “Pastor, go burn that holy book,” the leader of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL replied “Absolutely.” Herein lay the problem – his thinking rather than his knowing.
Christians do not have to try to imagine what Jesus would say “if he were here today”, as Moran put it. Instead, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he lives in the hearts of believers and speaks to them through his Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can know today what Jesus says, not guess at what he might say.
Jones told Moran that he was still praying about this issue, in light of many government and Christian leaders’ exhortations, including General David Petraeus’ warning that burning the Koran very likely would put our soldiers in jeopardy. However, Jones remarked: “We understand that those concerns are valid, but the question that we have is: uh…if we don’t do it, uh…when do we stop backing down?”
In the pastor’s own words, his concern for his right of expression overrides his concern for others. This reminds me of another radical plan facing our nation today: the proposal by a Muslim group to put a mosque at Ground Zero because it is their right to do so, despite the disharmony it provokes. Christianity, however, should promote harmony and seek peace when possible. The true Christian concerns himself not with his rights, but his righteousness. The Christian must be concerned only with Christ and submitting to his Lordship over all of life. This takes us right back to knowing – not hypothesizing – what the Lord Jesus commands us to do.
God’s Word is clear. Romans 12:14-19 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.””
Terry Jones is a confused pastor who cannot defend his plan on the basis of Jesus’ words. Instead, he is acting out of his own human wisdom, a guaranteed prescription for tragedy. However, according to Moran, Jones claims if God sends him a clear message not to do it, he won’t. I pray sincerely that Terry Jones receives the clear messages already sent to him in the pages of the Bible and doesn’t wait for some lightning bolt to hit him out of the sky – although I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.