The Mosque in Temecula and NYC: We can be a Christian ghetto or salt & light

On the front page of our local paper and in the national news, two seemingly parallel scenarios are taking place. In our local city of Temecula, California some fearful people are protesting the building of a 25,000 square foot mosque. In NYC, a mosque is proposed just blocks away from the 9/11 Ground Zero.

I am a Christian–a follow of Jesus–and a pastor at a local church. Speaking for myself, I feel some of my brethren may have made a terrible mistake by protesting the building of a Muslim church. I know people are fearful of Islamic extremists and some feel that having a mosque in our area is a bad thing. And, with 9/11 we all have etched in our mind the terror so a mosque blocks from Ground Zero reminds us of Islamic extremism’s worst effect.

I disagree with the teachings of Islam. I follow Jesus. But, I think those of us as Christians need to examine how we think and look at the fact that our battle is not against people–ever. I am not saying let’s do a barn raising for the mosque. But, what should we do?

Here is how I feel some of our thinking should be challenged:

  • Let’s work to model, speak and live out following Jesus rather than build walls that form a ghetto to keep us “safe” from other ideas, cultures and peoples.
  • We are called to reach the world. Today the world is coming to us, so it means this is an opportunity to be salt and light, not Crusaders who convert by the sword of local politics, racism or contempt of people in any form.
  • Let’s be careful to not lose our perspective that people matter to God, whether Muslim, atheist or followers of Jesus. God sent Jesus to die because he loves everyone, even those who choose not to follow him.
  • Our battle is “not against flesh and blood” so let’s pray for our city before we march with placards or sign petitions. We can protest the bad or we can praise God’s goodness.
  • This is not our “final” home. We are citizens of heaven. So, that should change our view of investment and erase some of our fear. We live for eternity and it’s balance sheet, not the temporary world we inhabit.

I am sure I missed some. Please let me know what your thoughts are. Are we thinking critically enough about our actions here as Christians?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

10 comments

  1. Great blog! I’m so happy to have discovered it. I live in the local area too (Temecula) and my perspective is as a Jew, not a Christian. Sifting through all of the media reports about the proposed mosque relocation, it has been hard for me to tell whether the protesters are a fringe group, or whether they are mainstream and just voicing things that other Christians privately believe but are afraid to say out loud.
    I am SO GLAD there are brave and righteous Christians such as you, the assistant pastor at St Martha’s who wrote an editorial recently, and the pastor who speaks on behalf Interfaith Council to set the record straight.
    I think what’s missing from your list is our duty as AMERICANS. We are FREE in this country. Our freedom is incredibly precious. It is tempting to give it away in the name of feeling “safe” and hoping someone else (“the government”) will protect us. Do that enough, and before you know it, your precious freedom is gone, and it’s too late to get it back. And I know I’m preaching to the choir here! I get very fired up about this because I am so passionate about it.
    I actually asked my husband the other day: What do we do? Move? I don’t want to raise our family in a place where people feel totally free to spout hatred without any type of repercussions. They obviously feel that everyone else who is like them agrees with them. We discussed it and agree that we are Americans. What Americans DO is fight the good fight. We keep ourselves free. We’ve been doing it for over 200 years.

    1. Juliet…Thanks for your comment. Truly, MANY followers of Jesus think as I do and I sure hope you get to actually meet some of us someday soon. DON”T MOVE YET…we have not even had chance to have a coffee.;)
      Your point about America is well put. It is truly “American” to support freedom to worship as one chooses! Yes, we have differing world views and ideas and faith but we are still people living in a community and my faith teaches something shared in yours…love your neighbor.

  2. Those who would represent the “Christian” perspective should be careful when protesting against other religious beliefs. Someday it might be their churches that are being protested against. Building community and relationships, by loving those around us, is what Jesus taught us to do. “Loving your neighbor as yourself” are only words unless you actually put those words into action. And as the saying goes…’ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS” – (or even protests).

    1. Dave..AMEN to this..
      “And as the saying goes…’ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS” – (or even protests).”

  3. Rich,
    Excellent post. We are emissaries of the Kingdom of Heaven, sent into the earth to represent the Lord – in OUR lives, not in judgment of others’ lives.
    It’s as we live our lives hidden in Christ, exalting Him rather than putting everything else down, that He draws all men to Himself.

  4. Rich, you are absolutely correct and I’m so glad that you shared your thoughts about this local issue with your national and international readers. Our family was on vacation when this first came out and it made me sick to think that there are Christians in our community being so vocally against the building of the mosque. I agree with Juliet (1st comment above) that freedom is a hallmark of our country and we need to continually be vigilant to protect that. By the way, your use of the word “ghetto” is so accurate. Unfortunately, some people regard the word ghetto only for one of its definitions without understanding the historical use of the word.

  5. Rick- tough subject to say the least. What indeed do we do? We all know how this all ends. I suppose it’s how we handle the in-between time that really matters, doesn’t it? Build walls or bridges; which one will make the most difference. Thanks for sharing your perspective on it all.
    Mark

  6. Thanks Rich. I blogged about this yesterday with much trepidation. I think Christians can get in trouble when they complain about the tactics of other religions, which from an outsider’s perspective, look very much like our own tactics.
    Sometimes I think we have no faith in our own faith when we see Islam expanding and throw up our arms in despair and turn to protesting.

  7. Kevin, could it be that we spit out our faith, rather than live out our faith?

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