I usually check the news online once or twice a day to keep informed about what’s going on in our world. Today on CNN there was a link to an article named “New York’s Bloomberg: We are all Muslims.” The title caught my attention, so I read it (it’s short). Towards the end of the article, the author quotes Mayor Bloomberg saying,
“At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, ‘If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one. If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'”
Bloomberg uses the quote to drive home the need for equality. I agree with his call to treat each other as equals, however there’s something in Imam Rauf’s quote that caught my attention. Imam Rauf is actually correct about the “heart of Christianity” being the Great Commandment (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself), but he (a Muslim Imam) claims to fulfill this command of Jesus.
Clearly, he believes that he is obeying God to the fullest of his abilities, however as a Christian reading this proclamation I get upset and frustrated because “being a Christian” is a unique thing. I would not claim to be Muslim if I prayed five times a day, I would not claim to be a Jew if I celebrated the Passover (which I have done in a Temple). Worshipping God in your own way does not mean that you are “Loving the Lord your God.”
The Christian truth is that we are incapable of loving God without loving Jesus Christ and worshipping Him. Christianity boldly proclaims that you cannot worship God without worshipping Him as the Triune God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). You cannot please God in worship while neglecting what He has revealed about Himself in order to bring about reconciliation between Himself and you (namely, that God became a man in Jesus Christ, that Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross as our substitute, that he physically rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into Heaven as our advocate to the Father, and that we have access to the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit).
Christians, be discerning listeners. How closely do you listen not only to the point of what’s being said, but also to the argument that is being used to convey the point? I could easily imagine a non-discerning Christian reading this article or hearing this speech and saying, “Yeah, he’s got a point… maybe he’s right!” Again, I know that Bloomberg and Imam Rauf’s point was one directed towards unity and equality, but we must be careful in HOW we make our points. As Christians, we must be discerning listeners. If someone has a valid point to make, it is their responsibility to make a valid argument to support their claim.
Let us all Love the Lord our God (through Jesus Christ) with all our heart, MIND, and soul… and that means we need to think carefully and discerningly about what we read and hear. As we do that, may we already remember to love our neighbor as ourself in the process.