Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What I Learned From a Muslim Riot

It’s impressive to see how angry some Muslim communities of the world have become over depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. What’s more amazing for me is to learn that most Muslims believe it is wrong to create ANY depiction of Mohammed for ANY reason. That detail fascinates me.

The ancient Hebrews also had a rule about depictions of Yahweh. As I recall, Moses threw quite a fit about a gold cow once. The rule about making a graven image of Yahweh was due to the fact that Yahweh is invisible, immeasurable, infinite. He is spirit, and to put him into physical form would immediately supplant Him from His rightful place as the only legitimate Object of worship.

But the earliest Christians (who were themselves Jewish) made a bold leap into the unknown by claiming that Jesus Christ was Yahweh Himself come in the flesh. They unapologetically declared that Jesus was “the image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation” of Him on this earth. Yahweh had always promised that He would one day dwell with His people, and while previous attempts to represent Him in artistic form were forbidden, God’s own representation of Himself was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Like Jesus, Mohammed was a man. A flesh and blood man. I believe that most normal Muslims believe that. Which means that he can be drawn. He can be painted. He can even be cartooned. That’s the risk you put yourself up for when you inhabit human flesh. A man can be caricatured. In fact, the more famous he is, the more likely it is that he WILL be. I’ve seen three disrespectful depictions of Jesus in the last two days. I didn’t like them. I guess I consider them offensive. But I didn’t go burn the national flags of the countries that allowed them to exist! Well, that’s not what I’m trying to write about at this moment. So back to what I was trying to say…

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that followers of Mohammed disallow depictions of him out of respect and homage to him? In their efforts to idealize him they confine him to the unseen realm, so to speak. I suppose that for them to see him represented in visible form would somehow reduce him and dishonor him, robbing him of the worship that they believe he deserves.

Compare this with Jesus, who stated in no uncertain terms that he who has seen him has seen Yahweh. This man stated that he and Yahweh would come and indwell those who believe in him, so that we, too, can become sons and daughters of God. The early Christians embraced this idea and proclaimed that when the church of Jesus gathers they are reassembling Christ himself. They are the body of Christ, inseparable from him in every way. “Little Christs,” they came to be called. Here is a faith that embraces the visible representation of their God.

Talk about running the risk of misrepresentation! Millions of little depictions of Christ running around all over the earth. What was Jesus thinking!? Didn’t he know that he was setting himself up for insult and injury? In particular, what was he thinking when he chose ME to be one of those representations? If I didn’t have the utmost deference for his wisdom, I would question his judgment about this issue. But this only illustrates my point. [Wait, what was my point?… Oh, yeah…] God knew that we could never be satisfied worshiping a God that we couldn’t see. We are flesh and blood and we identify with flesh and blood. So He took on flesh and blood in order to be with us. In so doing He set Himself up for insult, abuse, and misrepresentation. Apparently, he counted the cost and determined that we were worth it. That’s really something. I think I’ll go dwell on that for a little bit. Why don’t you join me?

7 Comments:

Blogger trent@ gracehead.com said...

The reckless disregard for human life by the rioters IS a depiction ... a LIVING depiction of their prophet Mohammed ... and it is far less flattering then any cartoon that I have seen.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Yet more proof that God is not like us, for we would never put ourselves out there for abuse and ridicule.

And yet, we are like Him.

We are His.

Halleluiah.

Awesome post, bro.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Herobill said...

[if !supportEmptyParas]--Interesting topic. [endif]

[if !supportEmptyParas]-->This really confused me. [endif]

5:44 PM  
Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

Awesome points Neil! I knew there was somthing to be gleaned from this Muslim/riot thing going on. You may just have nailed it. Prasie the Lord for a visible findable Lord who set Himself up for insult and ridicule on the slim chance that who He really is might be seen. She was worth it!

1:43 PM  
Blogger mba said...

Wow, these posts are quite clear.

It's great to read all this and your comments on it.
I see the life in there you have as a church. It points my heart to the Lord, hoping He might give birth to this among us here.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous John Cornett said...

Muslims must be like pissed all the time...and I probably would be too if I had to live up to their laws. It is such a different path eh? And some people think all religions are the same...just the names have been changed. Praise the Lord who wants to know us deeply and to be known in the same way. The Lord who wants to love us and be loved in return.

Cheers Neil! Current events aren't pointless after all.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Ms, Roman said...

Interesting post
God put Himself up for abuse intentionally whereas Muhammad didn't. What God won't do for us huh?

I am not siding with anyone but just as I wouldn't want a caricature or jokes about Jesus. I would want anything but respect for Him I suppose that's what Muslims are upset about the disrespect of their deity. Let's hope it's that and not just another excuse to throw rocks

1:05 PM  

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