|Pen and Ink Reflections||
'the jihad of Jesus'
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘jihad’ I wonder? For many people the word ‘jihad’ conjures up images of conflagration, disturbance and violence, doesn’t it? Across the world today, there is certainly a very small minority of Muslims who not only think in that way but who actively seek to inflict such images on others and use them to oppress and destroy. The consequence is appalling violence in many places. Of course, that is a hideous betrayal of what mainstream Islam has always understood ‘jihad’ to be. Yes, it has meant active struggle, even active violent struggle, if absolutely necessary, for truth and justice. Yet above all, it means ‘struggling, striving, applying oneself, persevering’ in the way of God. This may mean active, outer, physical struggle (usually nonviolently), but the ‘greater jihad’, as it is has been termed, is the inner, spiritual, struggle of human beings to live in relationship with God. In which case, this, to some degree, is not so far from Christian ideas of what we call ‘discipleship’ or ‘the way of Jesus’. For ‘discipleship’, or ‘the way of following Jesus’ is also a way of struggle: an inner, spiritual, struggle to grow in relationship to God, and an outer, active, struggle to help realise God’s truth and justice in the world. If we see that, then we may be able to understand the challenging words of Jesus in today’s Gospel as a call not to destructive conflict, but to a ‘jihad’, or sacred struggle, for compassion and ultimate healing of our broken lives and world…
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Josephine Inkpin, a married Anglican clergy couple serving with the Uniting Church in Sydney