Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here
Terry Jones
Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones sits in the courtroom of the 19th District Dearborn Court for a hearing in April 2011 (Reuters/Rebecca Cook )

The Florida pastor says he’s on a mission from God. But I can’t see in Scripture where God calls us to spew hate speech.

I recently spent time with two of my daughters and their husbands at a frozen yogurt shop in downtown Gainesville, Fla., on a quiet Saturday evening. It’s a good thing it wasn't Friday, because controversial pastor Terry Jones—who was indirectly linked to last week’s violent outbreaks in the Middle East—has been known to stir up trouble at the corner of SE Second Avenue and SE First Street.

Members of Jones’ tiny church, Dove World Outreach Center, often use megaphones to tell pedestrians they are going to hell. The angry street preachers blast homosexuals, President Obama, Muslims and any Christians who believe in tolerance. Sometimes restaurant patrons are forced to leave their patio tables and move indoors to escape the unwanted tongue-lashings.

Jones makes local news in Gainesville because of his attention-getting antics. Earlier this year he hanged President Obama in effigy on his church property (until the mannequin mysteriously disappeared). His members sometimes wear “Islam Is of the Devil” T-shirts. And back in 2010, when openly gay mayoral candidate Craig Lowe was running for office, the church launched a campaign against him with signs that said, “NO HOMO MAYOR.”

But it is Jones’ anti-Muslim rhetoric that has reached the boiling point several times recently. When he urged Christians last year to burn copies of the Quran, the resulting furor sparked riots throughout the Middle East—and 10 United Nations personnel died. Then last week, on the anniversary of 9/11, Jones admitted that he helped promote a low-budget film that mocked Islam. The violence that erupted in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and other countries caused the deaths of four Americans.

Jones insists that neither the film (which was produced by a Coptic Christian from California) nor his inflammatory comments about Islam caused last week’s violence. When The Daily Beast asked Jones if he felt he shared any responsibility for the deaths, Jones replied: “Absolutely not. We are here 1,000 miles away. Our actions pose absolutely no danger to their lifestyle. ... What it does, of course, is insult them, but that’s what freedom of speech does.”

Since I have the same free speech rights, I’d like to stand on my cyber-soapbox and offer an alternative. I respect the Rev. Jones’ right to preach on a street corner, but he has a warped view of Jesus Christ if he thinks the best way to evangelize the world is to ridicule people or spew hate speech at them.

I’ll use my own bullhorn to make these announcements:

1. Real Christians don’t hate Muslims. I believe Jesus is the only way to salvation. As a Christian, I don’t believe there are multiple paths to heaven. But I’m not going to convince a Muslim of the uniqueness of Christ by denigrating Islam or mocking Muhammad. And the ugly history of the medieval Crusades proves you can’t force Christianity on Muslim cultures.

What God calls us to do is love Muslims, pray for them and show them the compassion of Christ. Ultimately we must trust the power of the Holy Spirit to open a Muslim’s heart so he or she can see how much Jesus loves them.

2. Real Christians don’t hate homosexuals. Any faithful reading of Scripture reveals that God’s original plan for sexuality is monogamous, heterosexual marriage. But we live in a broken world, and because of family breakdown, abuse and other factors, many people today have embraced homosexuality. Jesus doesn’t put gay people on a special naughty list. He offers everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, an opportunity to take up His cross and follow Him on the pathway to discipleship.

Our job is to point the way to Christ, who has the power to conform our lives to His standards of holiness. But we won’t do that effectively by calling gay people “homos” or by screaming judgments at them. Love will require honest conversation, lots of sensitivity and Spirit-directed intercession.

3. Real Christians don’t hate President Obama. I still can’t believe that people from Terry Jones’ church (in the South!) hung an African-American doll on a gallows on church property. What were they thinking? No wonder local resident Larry Condra told the Gainesville Sun: “Jesus is cool, but some of his followers give me the creeps.”

You may completely disagree with President Obama’s policies on abortion, gay marriage, taxation and the national debt. I disagree with him on many issues, too. But he’s still my president, and my Bible commands me to pray for him. I don’t have to agree with his views on socialized medicine to show him the respect any civil leader deserves.

The apostle John’s first epistle gives clear New Testament guidelines on who is really a Christian. And one of his requirements is this: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7b-8, NASB). That tells me that a person who claims to be a Christian but whose life is characterized by hate speech might need to reevaluate whether he really knows God at all.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady.  

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • Lance Wallnau

    Lance Wallnau Is on Fire and on Target With His Insights on the Culture and This Election

    I'm sickened by the self-righteous, weak-kneed "evangelicals" who want to be liked by ...

  • In October, many things will be realigned in your life, including your vision.

    5 Prophetic Revelations About God's October Surprise

    "The winds of apostolic change are blowing across the land and realigning you."

  • Step into the rhythm of the Holy Spirit to find abundant life.

    Why Many Christians Never Taste the Abundant Life Jesus Promised

    Joyce lost 90 lbs. without dieting after the Holy Spirit revealed this strategy for wholeness.

  • London landing

    Urgent Prophecy: London Is the Landing Page

    The Lord continued to give me downloads about the deeper meaning and even strategy for the ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit