For Honor of Muhammad
I was watching the news today reporting on Muslims around the world protesting, many violently, over what they consider to be a blasphemous video about their prophet Mohammad. What they were saying to vindicate their violence in their protests caught my attention. They claimed they are compelled to do these things because they have to honor their prophet. They simply have no other choice.
This got me to thinking about this issue of honor. As I have watched these events transpiring around the world over the past week or so I couldn't help but remember the story of Gideon and his father who seemed to have gotten caught up in a somewhat similar situation as reported in Judges chapter 6.
As with many of the stories in the book of Judges, this one seems to have some strange things about it too. But one thing I have always really liked about it was what Gideon's father said to the men of the city when they launched a violent protest over Gideon tearing down their Baal altar and the Asherah next to it and replacing it with an altar to the God of heaven. But this is what his father, coming to Gideon's defense (even though Gideon himself was so fearful he had done it all in the dark the night before) had to say to the crowd who came out with great passion to vindicate the honor of their god:
But Joash said to all who stood against him, "Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar." (Judges 6:31)
I have wondered why the media has not brought up this idea to ask these people protesting so violently about their logic of maintaining the honor of their prophet. If Allah is so strong and so protective of the reputation of the prophet Muhammad, then why does He need so much help from humans? And what is this thing they call 'honor' anyway. How does committing acts of senseless violence against innocent victims bring honor to a prophet of Allah or God or anyone for that matter?
I understand quite well that a vast number of Muslims do not agree with the radical actions of those protesting in the streets around the world today. These protests make great news headlines and stirring pictures to arouse intense emotions in the minds of millions of viewers. But they hardly reflect the true ideals and beliefs of many Muslims who are greatly embarrassed by the actions of their fellow professed Muslims. But besides that point, how does creating mayhem around the world create more honor for anyone? Is it really necessary to regularly remind the world that they believe that Muhammad must be remembered as the leader of extreme violence? Is the religion of Islam so weak that it has to rely on constant use of intimidation, force, coercion and even death to maintain its power on the earth?
Unfortunately violence, along with a great deal of deceit among all parties in religious conflicts, seems to becoming the norm rather than the exception. And not only religions around the world but most governments also rely increasingly on raw force and fear to keep people in line and under their control. This is a mindset that is rapidly spreading as we see the whole idea of freedom and personal choice disappearing altogether as a relic of the past. America has almost lost all of the individual freedoms for which is has stood for since its inception while most people are unaware that they are already gone. It is not just Islam that is addicted to violence but this addiction seems to be pervasive almost everywhere one looks today.
So, my question still remains – how does honor fit into all of this? There is a lot of talk here in America about honoring our troops. Yet the stories that I sometimes hear of what really happens in places where our troops are turned loose are too often anything but what I would consider honorable. It seems that today we have come to the place where appearances and information spin is everything while truth and reality on the ground is suppressed in the name of patriotism and national security. It has now even been declared that anyone that in any way supports or communicates with anyone associated with Wikileaks can be sentenced to death for high treason as Assange and his associates have now been declared official 'enemies of the state'.
More and more I find that what is done in the name of honoring our country seems to be almost the opposite of what used to be considered the honorable and right thing to do. Instead of standing up for truth, for right, for freedom and accountability, now the only thing important to those in government is preventing anyone from knowing what is really going on at all costs. The word honor has been hijacked to mean whatever the state wants it to mean rather than maintaining true integrity any longer.
So it appears that our country has little to back up any claims to a better definition of honor than rogue Muslims rioting on the streets around the world. In fact, what I am starting to observe is that all this has little to nothing to do with any video. I doubt that even a tiny percent of the people rioting and committing these acts of violence have ever seen any part of that video they claim to find so dishonoring to their prophet. What I suspect is that a supernatural spirit of hatred compelling to selfish acts of violence is taking hold of the minds of millions of people all over the world. They now are simply waiting for any excuse to express their inner rage and lash out at others. And this spirit is present here in our country as well.
I suspect it may not be long before our own country may be racked with similar scenes of violence as we see every day on the news that is spreading across Europe, China and the Mideast. This is the spirit of force, of fear, of death that is the signature trademark of Satan's kingdoms. And as we are quickly closing in on the end of time alloted to this world's peoples to decide what spirit will control their lives, more and more are embracing the spirit of demons and are acting out the results of that choice under the compulsion of those spirits.
Violence has no part in heaven's plans for those who truly choose to believe and follow the ways of God. It is the counterfeit systems of this world, both religious and otherwise that utilize the methods of force and coercion in order to prop up their power. But force and fear are not the way of those who will be overcomers as described in the book of Revelation. Only those who seek the true honor of God by choosing the path of non-violence prescribed by Jesus who was the true revelation of God, will actually honor the reputation of God. All who choose in any way to condone or support or participate in violence do so because they believe in a God who will resort to violence when things go from push to shove. This mistaken belief about God has done more damage in this world than almost any other malicious lie we have embraced. Whether it be Islam, Christianity or Communism, violence in no way increases the honor of anyone. It only brings shame and suffering and ultimately death.
So, how can we live in such a way as to truly honor the reputation of the God that we claim to serve and worship? If violence is out of the question – and it seems clear from Jesus' explicit teachings that that is indeed the case – then how is God honored by His children here on earth?
I am coming to realize that the only way we can truly bring honor to God's reputation – which is what the whole cosmic war is all about to start with – is to submit ourselves to the Spirit of God sent to guide and fill us by Jesus who was the most non-violent person who ever walked this planet. By having Jesus in-dwell us through His Spirit, His character will be displayed in vivid reality whenever we come under attack or meet opposition or oppression.
The way God is honored is through the lives of His children in the midst of the darkness of lies about Him as they glow with the light of truth deeply entrenched in their own hearts. By not only believing in a God who never resorts to violence to get His way, but also in living consistently in harmony with the radical teachings of Jesus, we will overcome the enemy's vicious lies about God in the face of overwhelming odds. We may possibly lose our lives in the process of bringing honor to our loving God, but that is nothing to true believers, for Jesus promised that He holds the keys of death and it is no problem for Him to raise them back up at the right time after the war is over. The important thing is that we come to see God with new eyes, to form a picture in our hearts of the real God who's honor has been so damaged by the perversion of religion for centuries.
How few there are who are willing to take seriously the words of Jesus to take up the cross and follow His example in order to honor God. But He says it is impossible to be His disciple unless we do so. But just what does it mean to take up our cross? It means to follow the example of and be filled with the same attitudes as Jesus when He took up His cross and refused to be induced into retaliating against those who humiliated Him. He refused to take offense at anyone no matter how unjustly they treated and abused and shamed Him. He did nothing but love and continuously forgive all those who tried to strip Him of honor. But in the end all they managed to accomplish was to amplify and magnify His honor by highlighting the truth of His irrepressible love in the face of the most extreme hatred, violence and abuse. To take up our cross and follow Jesus is to live with this attitude that was in Christ Jesus.
For anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus, I see no other way to honor God than by allowing God's Spirit to dwell in them to empower them to demonstrate again and again the real truth about God as revealed in the life and death of Jesus. As this kind of honor becomes more evident in this world of lies and confused notions about what God is like, this fresh revelation of honor for God's reputation will quickly bring about the end of this war and will draw all who are honest in heart to embrace this radical God that has so long been unseen in the lives of His professed followers.