The Common Good

Hospitality for 'Ugly Enemies'

Several weeks ago, Larry and Andrea - Christian friends who live and work among Muslims in the Middle East - sent me their reflections on the recent U.S. visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which outraged so many. My friends were bothered by what transpired too, but for different reasons. I think their reflections are well worth sharing here:

Paul Gordon Chandler, in a recent book Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road, describes how a young Muslim, Mazhar Mallouhi, refused to read anything about Christianity because, as Mazhar says, "Christianity was seen as the enemy. And you need your enemy to be ugly. You don't want to discover anything good in your enemy, or you will find yourself in the wrong." Mazhar eventually embraced a relationship with Jesus, and in his contact with Christians discovered that they, too, desire to regard their enemies as ugly as possible. When we portray our enemies as utterly depraved, then we feel justified in treating them however we want.

I risk stating the obvious by mentioning the less than gracious reception President Ahmadinejad received at Columbia University where he was an invited guest. He was also insulted at the United Nations when the American delegation got up to leave at the beginning of his address. It is worth noting that in the Bible, as in the Middle East today, hospitality is seen as a sacred duty. The New Testament says, "extend hospitality

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