Yesterday’s reading from Acts 4 was interesting. Faced with the spreading Gospel the Sanhedrin meets and discusses: 'What are we going to do with these men?' (4:16) I must confess I could read no further.
What are we going to do with these men? Suddenly their arrogance struck me – and their fear - and their envy.
They were jealous of the following the Apostles were getting. Arrogance permitted them to think they could actually ‘do’ something to stop the truth spreading (never mind God’s plans!) … and fear of losing their power impelled them to want to destroy the Apostles.
In my experience, whenever people use power to protect their entrenched positions (otherwise known as vested interests) it’s all too often because their entrenched position is rather fragile and vulnerable. Does mum allow a football near her crystal cabinet? No way – outside!
This leads me to think of Islam and the cleric who attacked the Pope for baptising a Moslem convert at the Easter Vigil last Saturday – calling it … a deliberately provocative act!
Now come on, pahleez!, let’s get real! In how many Moslem countries is it actually a crime to convert to Christianity, and what are the painful sanctions imposed on those who do so? Why is there a need in these places to defend Islam with force? Why is there this fear of conversion? If Islam is true it will be attractive because the truth always attracts.
To use force in either propagating or defending any religion is to testify both to one’s arrogance before God as well as to the fear that without force people just might walk away. One is, in fact, saying to God: Your truths are not enough to attract people, they are not compelling enough .. we need some force, a gun, a prison sentence, the loss of a job .. to convince people to stick with you.