Monday, June 26, 2006

Brian McLaren, Brenda Salter-McNeil and Greg Boyd

Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and The Myth of A Christian Nation by Greg Boyd. Then yesterday morning on the way to Prescott, Arizona my wife and I listened to a tape by Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil on racial reconciliation.

It struck me that there was a common theme running through the two books and the sermon. McLaren talks about how following Jesus in really about serving. Boyd talks about the difference between "power-over" (kingdom of the world) and "power-under" (kingdom of God). Dr. Salter-McNeil talked about the importance of humility in racial reconciliation.

The theme is humility and service. It reminded me that God is humble. That Jesus came to earth in all humility. And, that as Boyd points out -- the Kingdom of God is about humility and service -- about "power-under". That if we are going to reflect Jesus personally and corporately, we need to be characterized by humility and service.

That got me thinking about how my city or state or country sees the church -- and the church I am part of in particular. Would the people in our immediate community see us as a humble church that desires to serve? Do the other churches in our city see our church -- as a church that is humble and desires to serve them? Do Americans perceive the churches in our country as churches that are committed to humility and service as we follow Jesus?

God also began to speak to me personally. I realize that I need to have God work in my heart as well to be someone who in everything I do am committed to service, humility and "power-under". My education, ministry experience, ministry position, country of origin or ethnic background really have nothing to do with anything. I need to follow Jesus and serve Him using the gifts, skills and abilities He has invested in me.

My prayer is that I will truly serve the Lord with humility.


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It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods, or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainers of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Quran, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads:

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone."

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be farther from truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Quran begins with the verse: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate." In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are told that "God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child."

But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous, His bounties and favours. Actually God's attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Quran verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect:

"Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge you?" (68:34-36)

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