Jesus and the Four Approaches
There are two extreme views on Islam and Muslims in western eyes. Either it is only for terrorists and jihad portrayal or Islam as a religion of peace. Both can sometimes be true, but neither is completely correct. You can think you have to choose one of these extremes. But that simply is not the reality. Many people, regardless of life view, see Jesus as a model of high stature. This also includes Muslims. In Jesus, one can see at least four approaches to the people, to religion and to oppression. And here we all have something to learn – believers as well as non-believers.
1. Jesus lived with others
Jesus lived side by side with ordinary people, even those who did not believe in him and with those who had other customs and faiths. Jesus actually lived in a multicultural society.
Even today, we have many religious groups and all kinds of customs and practices – from the conspiracy of surrender to the removal of pork by both Jews, Muslims and vegetarians. We have liberal Christians to devote Muslims; fanatic vegans, converted Buddhists in our mist. And we must learn to live side by side, share joy and sorrow, pay taxes, provide schools and social care.
2. Jesus lived for others
We need to live for others and care for the those with needs. It can be about helping Muslim refugees or helping those oppressed by totalitarian regimes. This could contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq, support human rights defenders in the Arab world, work among Palestinian widows and children in Gaza. Think of Jesus likeness of the merciful compassion.
3. Jesus spoke freely and sought to convince others
In a free and democratic society, political parties, non-profit organizations, churches work to convince us and others to attract more members. Of course, we will stand up for this right, not only to believe but also to propagate advance those beliefs. This right applies to Social Democrats, Mormons, Green peace activists and to Muslims. This is freedom of expression, which includes the right and the freedom to testify of his or her faith. It also means the right to change opinion, political party or religion. Many, like Jesus, sometimes seem to forget that he was quite exclusive in his claims: “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to God but through me.” Jesus spoke openly and freely; he evangelized; propagated if desired. Everyone has the right to express and everyone has the right to reject.
4. Jesus resisted oppression
There is also a reason to sometimes confront, forcefully question and occasionally also ban certain groups, even if they exist within Muslim societies.
We can not tolerate women being treated as less worthy of the law. We can not tolerate the request for suicide bombing. We can not tolerate men, women or children being demeaned or repressed in the name of Islam, such as Iran, for example. Even Jesus went to confront religious leaders who abused privilege and religious authority in this way.
In true democracy, all of these four approaches must be provided: living together, helping and supporting, speaking freely and seeking convincing, but also confronting and questioning.
Further reading Jesus and Islam