I am sure many, if not all, have heard about the cartoons published in the Danish papers that depict Mohammed, the Islamic prophet.
First, I think it is helpful to view the cartoons.
Next, I want to make the point of this entry clear. I am not defending free speech. This has more to do with Christianity than that.
Only one admirable thing can be said about the reaction to the Mohammed cartoons by the Muslim community. They are acting with zeal.
Romans 10:2 says “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” (NASB).
Paul is addressing the Romans, concerning the unconverted Jews. Paul mentions the zealousness of the Jews from personal experience. Paul was very zealous as a Pharisee before his conversion (Philippians 3:5). But there was a lack of knowledge in their zeal. Paul goes on to reveal that the knowledge they are missing is that the righteousness to please God is only found in Jesus Christ.
We have this knowledge that God has provided righteousness for us through Jesus. Before Paul obtained this knowledge he had a long list of supposedly righteous deeds (Philippians 3:4-6). After Jesus appeared to him, he received the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:20). In Philippians 3:12-14 we find the zeal that should accompany our knowledge, as it accompanied Paul. We must “press on” (v. 12 & 14) to know Jesus Christ, to be found in Him as a direct reference to His righteousness only, obtained by faith.
How do we “press on”? First, we should be able to suffer and lose all things for Jesus’ sake (3:8-10). How do we suffer and lose all things? Our suffering and loss comes from being the children of God (Philippians 1:29;Hebrews 12:6). How are we children of God? We are children of God because God redeemed us through Jesus (Galatians 4:4-5). And now that we are God’s children He has sent the Spirit to live in us (Galatians 4:6). With God in us we are able to work out our salvation by doing His will (Philippians 2:12-13). His will regarding those who persecute us and mistreat us is love and prayer (Matthew 5:44). The Holy Spirit expands on this in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”, and again in verse 17, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men”. We are also reassured of God’s perfect justice in Romans 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord”. Finally, Romans 12 is closed by a reminder of what we are to do, see to the needs of our enemies – to aid them (v. 20-21).
How should we conclude then? The cartoons were unnecessary. The attempt to justify violence on their behalf is ridiculous. But most of all is the state of the minds of the lost. The cartoonists may have overstepped their bounds (Ephesians 5:3-4). The Islamic militants are without knowledge and without the true God (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:21-26; Ezekiel 33:11). But having this knowledge and knowing the true God, it comes to us to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16), to press on (Philippians 3:12-14) and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).