A British teacher in Sudan is arrested and barely escapes with her life for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammad. Twelve cartoons portraying Muhammad in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten causes flags to be burned, embassies to be torched, and at least one Christian church to be stoned — sending the editors into hiding, like Salman Rushdie, fearing for their lives.

Here is the essential difference between Christianity and Islam — the work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. In fact, if Christ had not been insulted there would be no savior — no rescue of sinners from the wrath of God. The stone which the builders rejected would never have become the chief cornerstone.

This was not true of Muhammad — in fact, most Muslims do not believe it is true of Jesus, as they are taught that Jesus was not crucified. “Muslims believe that Allah saved the Messiah from the ignominy of crucifixion.” Another says, “We honor [Jesus] more than you [Christians] do . . . We refuse to believe that God would permit him to suffer death on the cross.” A crucified savior, to Islam, is a contradiction in terms — it’s a stumbling stone. The very kind that men fall over and are either saved — or fall under, and are damned.

But enduring suffering and mockery is not only the essence of Christ’s mission, but is the essence of the Church’s as well. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account” (Mt. 5:11). Martin Scorsese portrayed Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ as always agonizing with doubt and beset with sexual lust. Andres Serrano was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts to portray Jesus on a cross sunk in a bottle of urine. The Da Vinci Code pictures Christ as a mere mortal who married and fathered children. The insults go on — and so does the growth of the Church.

The difference between Christianity and Islam isn’t that we’re not grieved, even angered when Christ is dishonored — but that we understand and pray for our enemies, as our Savior did. We honor Christ by following in His footsteps, not by protecting His reputation. Allowing mockery doesn’t show the weakness of Christianity, but its strength — the power of a gospel that dispenses mercy and grace. Something Islam knows nothing about. (Adapted from Taste and See, John Piper).

– Mark Lacour

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