Sunday, August 19, 2012

Who Picks Up the Slack When Christians Avoid Muslims?

Muslim wasn't a word in my childhood vocabulary.  I rarely heard it at home and if I did, it was some passing reference on the evening news.  Even by high school, Islam was a vague concept from World History class.

Somewhere in college, I picked up the very basic differences in belief systems between Christians and Muslims, enough to know about its chief prophet Muhammad and Jesus being demoted from Son of God to "just another prophet."

Still, in my mind, Muslims were a world away, ever-tanned people who lived in the deserts of Africa, who believed women to be worth less than the dust of the earth, who hit their knees to bow turbaned head in prayer three regimented times a day, and who lived to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Muslims were other-worldly.  They were the strange burka-clad women I saw every now and then at the mall. I always looked away, embarrassed, never sure how to get past the strangeness of their garb to even smile a greeting.

Then came September 11, 2001.  Suddenly, Islam and all Muslims were yanked up on center stage.  They weren't a people group "over there."  Muslims were now the neighbor next door.  And worse, some Muslims were extremists to be feared for their hatred of America.

But how could you tell which Muslim was waiting to go on a kamikaze mission in the name of Allah?

For awhile, it looked like the McCarthyism of the 50s would return with a vengeance, although this time, we were searching for Muslim terrorists instead of Communists under every rock. 

The result of this fear was separation, an "us" versus "them" mentality.

And when that happened, Christians stepped away from their duty to share the gospel.

Such is the argument Pastor Tom Doyle makes in the newest book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?

He writes, "I believe Islamic terrorism is Satan's attempt to keep the gospel message away from Muslims.  The enemy thinks that if he can make the rest of us afraid of Muslims or make us hate them, then he can short-circuit Jesus' church from reaching Muslims."

It has been a week since I read this passage.  I still feel convicted.

Scripture commands Christians to share the gospel with all peoples.  The Great Commission doesn't exclude potential terrorists or extremists, doesn't give Christians an "out" for choosing fear over obedience.

Christ clearly said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”" (Matt. 28:19-20).

These aren't confusing words that can have a double interpretation.   All means all.

Yet, Pastor Doyle's book doesn't stop with this biting critique of modern Christianity.  Instead, he continues, saying Satan's attempt to short-circuit the path of the gospel "isn't working.  Jesus has stepped in and is opening Muslim hearts Himself."

The book proceeds to present narrative accounts of Jesus taking up the gauntlet and introducing Himself to Muslims, one at a time, in dreams.  These dreams then lead Muslims to a Christian--either in person or in an Internet chat room--who disciples them in the Word.

Slow down and think about this for just a minute.  

Christians have allowed fear, difference, not knowing what to say, embarrassment--whatever--to stop them from sharing the gospel with Muslims.  

So, Jesus has bypassed His ineffective disciples to do the job, Himself.

The Jesus who told you and me to go and tell, who gave His own life for us.....He is out there on the front lines sharing Himself.  He is issuing the call.  And even in the dangerous countries so steeped in Islam that they routinely kill family members who swear allegiance to Christ, He is winning souls daily.

Maybe you're like me and feel ashamed at having dropped your gaze when a Muslim walks your way.  More than that, though, I feel a call to arms, to push past the cultural differences, the fear, and try to win these Muslims to Christ.

There is a time for everything, and the real-life accounts in Doyle's book convince me that the time for the Muslim to come to know Christ is now.

With the Jesus film reaching 6.5 billion already, with the Internet penetrating formerly-closed countries, with Christian radio reaching 93%* of the world, with 60 million* in the Middle East able to watch a Christian apologist on television--the time is now.

If you avoid a particular establishment because it's owned by a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist...

If you avoid interaction with someone who dresses differently because of their religion...

I challenge you to overcome your prejudices, your fear, your embarrassment and see them as God sees them--as lost souls waiting for someone to share with them the truth of Jesus Christ's sacrifice at Calvary.

Otherwise, it will be said of our generation that the fields were ripe unto harvest but the willing laborers were so few that Jesus had to go, Himself, in our place.  

That's not what I want my Savior to say to me when I meet Him in the clouds.

Read a sample of Doyle's book here.  You'll be hooked.

*Doyle.  p. 264

1 comment:

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