Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. – Psalm 141:5 (NLT)
The Qiblah refers to the direction that Muslims face when engaged in ritual prayer. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are instructed to pray in the direction of the Great Mosque of Mecca (in Saudi Arabia). It is believed that having a Qiblah gives Muslim worshippers a way to achieve unity and focus in prayer.
On a clergy tour of Palestine-Israel some years ago, our Muslim guide informed us that most mosques contain a wall that indicates the proper direction of prayer. But outside of a mosque, individual Muslims may be uncertain as to the proper direction in which to pray.
If a Muslim is seen praying in the wrong direction, our guide told us that it is the responsibility of a Muslim who knows the right direction to turn the other in the right direction. And it is the responsibility of the Muslim facing the wrong direction to accept the correction.
Being open to correction is not always easy. When we allow our religious practices or our political affiliations or our ideological connections to give us absolute certainty in what we do, we remain doggedly unmoved in the directions we have determined. There is no room for correction in the lives of those consumed with their own certitude.
It is possible to be sincere, and yet be sincerely wrong. So God places people around us to turn us when necessary. Perhaps the answer to our prayers for unity is found precisely in not assuming that we always know the right direction.
God, help me to see the right direction through the people you have placed in my life. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.