Easter 2016: God loves the world, but not them!

The Christian world has condemned the deadly Brussels attack by ISIS

The Christian world has condemned the deadly Brussels attack by ISIS

Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop used his Easter Sunday sermon to condemn last week’s Brussels attacks. But Jesus gave His strongest rebukes to His own people.

At this time of year 2000 years ago, Jesus’ Easter messages were quite different to what we would expect. Instead of criticising Roman oppression or the annoying Samaritans, Jesus went to His own temple and drove out the religious leaders who were making money out of the temple services. Not once but twice. Both at Easter (the Jewish Passover).

The Samaritans were to Jesus what the Muslims are to Christians today. They were distant relatives, but most of the religious people hated them. Samaritans were part pagan, and part worshipers of the God of Israel. They were not unlike the extremist Islamic terrorists of today, hanging around creating a real nuisance.

Surely Jesus could have used His Easter (Passover) messages to criticise the Samaritans!

Or at least the Romans.

Yet Jesus effectively told a story of a ‘Good Muslim‘ who stopped to help a wounded Christian when other Christians wouldn’t. It was called the parable of the Good Samaritan back then. In our day it would be the Good Muslim.

Jesus could have gone to the Samaritan temple to tell them they were doing it wrong. But He didn’t. He went to the temple of His own people and told them they were missing the point.

So today He wouldn’t go to the mosque to sort out the Muslims. He goes to the Christian churches – the ones who claim to believe in Him – to challenge their message.

Jesus continually said good things about Samaritans. He was a friend of the Samaritan; and a friend of the Muslim today.

The Samaritans were the equivalent of modern day Muslims. Yet somehow Jesus seems to ignore the hostility of a few of them and focus on the hypocrisy of His own chosen people.

It’s noteworthy that the Bible has very little to say about religions not based on the Bible. You’d think the Bible would focus its warnings on people that don’t profess belief in it:

  • Muslims
  • Terrorists
  • Hindus
  • Chinese
  • Communists
  • Atheists

But the Bible has very little to say about any of those nations or belief systems – or lack of belief systems. Except that God loves them, too!

So for us Christians to get up on our high horse and condemn those on the other side of our fence is not consistent with the Bible’s message. The Bible’s message is that we need to understand God’s character of love and forgiveness. This starts with us – the people who claim to be Bible followers.

God wants to protect us all from our distorted picture of who God is. No matter what club we belong to. Whether we’re part of this church or that church, or atheist, or Muslim, or Hindu.

God is especially concerned about the false pictures that His own professed people paint. He’s not so concerned about correcting the teachings of ISIS, because that’s not deceptive. Most of the world naturally recoils from that. He’s not so concerned that they are preventing people from understanding His character. People are only drawn to that as a seemingly viable alternative because the so-called Christian West is so corrupt and selfish.

The people that can do the most damage to the way people picture God are His professed followers.

That’s why Jesus’ Easter message was to clean up the Jewish temple – His own people! He didn’t worry about going to the Samaritan temple at Mt Gerizim to clean it up. But He cleaned up the Jerusalem temple – twice.

For many today Easter is just a long weekend holiday. An excuse to eat lots of chocolate, as much as we can get hold of.

But it’s more than that. It’s an opportunity to understand the truth about Easter and to appreciate God’s love for not only us, but the rest of the world too.

The Story of the Good Muslim

Muslims protecting Christians as they worship in Pakistan

Muslims protecting Christians as they worship in Pakistan


This is a modern-day adaptation of the parable Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, recorded in Luke 10.

The Jews of Jesus’ day hated Samaritans whom they regarded as terrorists. Extremist Samaritans occasionally committed inflammatory acts of violence and vandalism.

To whom would Jesus direct His strongest criticism in today’s world? Given that He spoke kindly towards Samaritans back then, and rebuked His own Jewish leaders, I propose that He would direct His strongest criticism today toward corrupted Christianity.

Here’s what the parable of the Good Samaritan might like like if Jesus was on earth in our time:

30 Then Jesus said to a lawyer: “A certain man travelled from New York to Paris, and not knowing the area, fell among criminals, who robbed him and left him half dead.

31 Now by chance a priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 Likewise a pastor, when he came to the place, came and looked at the victim, then passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Muslim, as he was walking to the train station, came where the wounded tourist was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, and gave him medicine; and took him by taxi to the nearest hospital and stayed with him overnight.

35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two hundred Euro, gave it to the nurses, and said to them, ‘Take care of this tourist; and anything more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And the lawyer said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

There have indeed been true stories just like this, where Muslims have been good Samaritans to Christians. Here are a couple of recent examples:

  • Muslims and Christians were travelling together on a bus in Kenya when held up by extremists, who intended to kill all non-Muslims. The Muslims on the bus shared their Islamic headscarves with the Christians, who wore them, saving many lives.
  • And in Pakistan, hundreds of Muslims formed a human wall of protection around Christians who gathered to worship at their church soon after a deadly attack on fellow Christian worshipers.


The truth about Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner, arguably the most famous transgender person in the world right now, has attracted worldwide attention for saying she’s now more interested in dating men.

I prefer bananas over mangoes. I’ve also changed my hair colour from blond to black. Well, a couple of strands, anyway.

Does any of that determine my identity?

The truest thing about Caitlyn Jenner has little to do with her sexual identification or sexual preference. It is that she is created in God’s image, and is loved by the Creator of the universe!

God loves Caitlyn Jenner so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die in her place so that she, Caitlyn, can live forever in perfect freedom, love and happiness.

Such a wonderful gift of an infinite and perfect future is freely available to anyone who chooses to accept it. Amazing love!