|People of Faith and Religious laws|
The announcement by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah in March 12 that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches in the region..." have taken a sinister turn in May 12 when the people of faith in Kuwait approved the law calling for the death penalty for blasphemy. Once in power, the people of faith have extended strict religious laws to the detriment of minority faiths eg the Christian church not allowed to construct new churches. It's similar in Singapore where Christians have insisted that Gays be put in prisons, or in the US where they are demanding that gays be not allowed to marry.
The central core of the major faiths is not necesarrily about love, but of religious laws and judgement for which they will go to great lenghts to impose it on the rest of society based on their own religious construction.
There is a question of the Freedom of Speech which is often limited by the people of faith. Hence, the need for secular space rather than the imposition of religious laws. There is a hyporcrisy of those calling for religious freedom yet using this freedom to limit the basic rights of others. eg many Christian churches calling for gays to be put into prisons and in the US, calling for a ban on gay marriages. It is a double edged sword whilst we may call for a ban on gays, as a result other states have also a "moral" right to restrict Christianity.
When the people of faith talks about reciprocity, it is often based on judgement ie in Ex 21: 22-25 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Often this becomes the basis of religious laws for the people of faith, and not so much about love.
We often forget about reciprocity when we are exalted in the heights of our religious self righteousness so close to heaven that we become gods ourselves. Jesus angst was against such people of faith who justifies themselves as righteous through obedience of religious laws (in their own perceptions per say). We often don't think of what happens when we ourselves are a weak minority, in another country.
Jesus turned the argument of the people of faith almost 180 degrees opposite to the basic instincts of humanity - He urged them not only not to respond in kind, but to respond in love, for which there is no religion.
Mat 5:43-48 - 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This is the Grace of God, to give what is underserved especially when they deserved harm instead. Why? because God is the God of all, and we live in the same space - the sun rises and falls, the rains comes and goes whether we are good or evil. It is God who sends the rain down to the righteous and the unrighteous, to those who worship Him and those who worship other spiritual deities apart from God. Rain talks about the grace of God, the life giving rain that ensures the survival of the town, the city, the nation. The grace of God falls upon all, the good and the evil, and therefore, we are to be like the Father to give grace.
True Christianity therefore is contrary to the people of faith and their religious laws as the basis of their faith because it is based on something beyond themselves to give mercy and grace whereas religious laws proclaim judgement and to love only those who love us.
Jesus defence against Pharisees, the people of faith coming against Him using their religious laws, was to generalise their own religious laws into the "love commandments" or the Shema of Israel - loving God, and loving others as we love ourselves. Jesus did not intend this as the basis of our Christian Faith. For if God to us is a God of judgement and condemnation and of religious laws, then "loving others" would be to condemn them as we would have condemned ourselves.
Therefore in Mat 5:46, 47 Jesus remarked that if we love on the basis of those who loved us, and doing good only to people who have done good to us, then how are we different from others. How are Christians who worship Jesus different from other faiths who worship other gods?
The differentiating factor of true Christianty is how we show love, grace and mercy, and not only the radical love in the Shema of Yisrael for which was common to humanity. It is not about religious laws and judgement for in John 3:17, 18, we are already condemned if we had not believed in Jesus, His death and resurrection for our sins.
When we insist on the religious laws, we ourselves will be judged by it, and instead of grace received the judgement due.
So let us walk instead not as people of faith based on laws or even the love commandments in our common humanity. Let us walk this journey of faith by following Jesus Christ in showing love, grace and mercy and not judgement. Then we can become God's instrument of peace and redemption in Jesus Christ.