This past week, the Christian-right has found itself divided in regards to the Garland, Texas cartoon contest sponsored by Pamela Geller.Should we insult all Muslims for the sake of making a point? Is it better to turn the other cheek and kill them with kindness as the old adage advises? This is a tough scenario to decipher.
Rev. Franklin Graham denounced the event, saying that we - meaning Christians, I presume - should not mock other faiths. However, I wonder if the event was truly mocking devout followers of Islam or instead, was a purposeful provocation in the market place of ideas- and yes, there is a difference.The distinct difference is emotion or lack thereof. As courageous Christian activists, we must strive to be like Christ. We must strive to be like the individual who befriended the hated tax collector, the outcasted prostitute, and spent time with lowly children. Concurrently, we must also strive to be like the individual who rebuked Satan and violently overthrew tables in the temple.
I understand and sympathize with those of the Christian-right who feel marginalized and ostracized within our so-called “Christian nation.” And while I call upon Christians to stand up and engage in the political arena, Christians must do so without emotional looseness. We can rebuke and engage with our detractors, all the while exemplifying Christ’s love. The best example of this balance is when Jesus ran the moneychangers out of the temple as described in Matthew 21.
I can imagine Jesus calmly thinking, “Hmm. This is wrong. I guess I need to get everyone’s attention. I guess I’ll go flip over the tables and drive them out of my Father’s house. Maybe then they’ll pay attention to the truth and turn to my Father.” Being that Jesus was perfect, He did all this, acting in righteous anger, while exemplifying the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. His actions were not an emotional reaction, but rather purposeful and thought-out action, employed to fix a problem.
Sometimes it takes purposeful provocation to bring attention to an issue. And when done so with an even-temper and emotionless rationality, it honors Christ. Whether Gellar's cartoon contest was crass, courageous, or Christ-like I do not know, because I do not know her heart. However, I do believe the verdict comes down to this and this alone: Christian activists must strive to be intellectually fierce for an emotional cause; Loving Christ with all our hearts, but taking up His cause with a calm and intellectual motive. Anything but a perfect balance of the two is a failure to act as Christ did.