Arabian Churches needing a miracle



1 cor 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

We all live in a level of delusion especially when it comes to our faith construction and wanting to believe that all the major faiths are about love. Rather, at its core religion is about our own works and doing good to reach God or a divine nature. Perhaps its true that God is in our relationships and that how we treat each other should be enhanced by correct faith beliefs. Right action normally follows right believing.

Therefore, the recent statement and religious fatwa by the head of a major religious faith is a surprise although not that surprising since Christianity has been highly restricted in the Arab Peninsula and converts already faced harsh punishments.

The Huffington Post tried to defend the religious faith by introducing an Abdullah Antepli, the religious chaplain at Duke University in response to the recent declaration by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. The hidden message was that not all religious leaders from this faith believed likewise. However, It's just like a local Catholic priest of a small chaplain coming against the Pope. The grand mufti being the head of the faith carries much weight and authority reflective of the people of faith in his nation/faith.

If the Pope himself had likewise called for the destruction of mosques in Europe, surely there would be grave protest in the streets of Europe and a massive outpour, rioting to destroy churches,  and political/economic retaliation in the Middle East. But I guess, that is the gift of grace in Christianity, a faith founded at the Cross of suffering and redemption and not on religious works. We are to love those who come against us. And this is radical love and not that salvation was necesarilly available in all faiths.

As churches are generally already in the underground in Saudi and officially do not exist, the religious pronouncement extends the ban to all countries in the Arab peninsula including Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. It makes a mockery to a call by some Christians siding with this faith in response to valid claims of discrimination in the West. Perhaps there is a real fear of the expansion of Christianity into the Arab Peninsula.

The bigotry and intolerance by a few in the West is contrasted with the calls for destruction by the head of the religious faith.  We are all intolerant to different degrees especially if we come religious faiths based on works so eager to condemn others of their sins just like the Pharisees of old. 

As they are in the vast majority, they do have a right to insist that Christianity be banned much the same as the right to put gays to death. It is their rights as a people of faith and who are we to say that they are wrong. But we belong to Jesus Christ, who is our banner, our champion and the Lion of Judah. Some may say we are presumptuous, but that is the Christian faith centered around the certainty of Christ death and resurrection and salvation both here on earth and in heaven.

This is in contrast to the freedom given without any aggenda for Christians living in Israel. However, Christians in the West through the grave harm done against the gay community has lost a moral right to comdenn the mufti. Are we any better? In Singapore, we insist that gays be put in prison. The Gay community don't even have any organization (lest we complained to the Government that they are promoting homosexuality), whilst our institution has tens of thousands of members per mega church.

Some Christians in the West preached in the binary of the oppressed versus the oppressors which is an issue in the society we live in. Yet, we don't hear much from them when Christians are oppressed, not just a few isolated incidents but the entire churches of nations. Perhaps, we do need more inter-faith dialogue in Arabia.

As we feel for the pain and sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Christ, during this Easter, Jesus has already gone before us. He took the stripes, the pain and the suffering, that the suffering church may be pure and holy and redeemed.

As Gay Christians, we know the persecutions and the rejection and we know the many lives lost in the closet. But Christianity is a choice whilst being gay is innate. Being a Christian is a matter of choice and a decision of faith to believe in Jesus, His death and resurrection for our sins. For many this choice has meant death down through the centuries from the torture chambers of the Catholic churches, to the torture behind the iron curtain and now in places hostile to Christians. The Christian faith has always risen because Christ has risen again.

As much as we suffer, we are called not to retaliate, but to love. For by our love and by grace, they will know that we are of Christ. For much too long, Christians have shown hate in their self righteous indignation and crusade against gays. It's time to love and give grace. Because we need the grace of God like never before.

There was another time, another place not to far away from Arabia where the Jews were trapped in Egypt. They needed a miracle, so too our prayers today for a revival in the Middle East.



Mufti: Arabian Peninsula Churches 'Must Be Destroyed'

CBN News, Friday 16 March 2012

Saudi Arabia's highest Islamic authority said no Christian churches should be allowed in the Arabian Peninsula.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Saudi grand mufti, said it is "necessary to destroy all the churches in the region."

The sheikh was responding to a question by a delegation from Kuwait asking about a Kuwaiti parliamentarian's call to remove all churches there.

Abdullah cited an Islamic hadith quoting the prophet Mohammed on his deathbed, who said, "there are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula," meaning only Islam can exist there.

Later the sheikh clarified his remark, saying that "Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it."

Christianity is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and there are no churches there.

Other nations included in the Arabian Peninsula are Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.



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