As I have started to journey down this odd road of seeking out more understanding of Islam and Muslims, it has been very interesting the response I have gotten from Christians. I have read many books on both sides. Both sides meaning, those who are trying to reach out to Muslims in the Muslim nations and those who seem to know nothing of Islam besides the usual Western straw man arguments. I have sought out both sides, and will continue to do so. I have found some things within Islam that of course bothers me a bit and I am seeing where our true differences truly are. To be honest, our differences are a lot less than most Western Christians understand, or even care to know. I guess at this point, I just want to issue a challenge to all Christians in the U.S. and in the U.K. that read my blog. This challenge is the one that I have learned the most about when reading from those men who have dared to go to these Muslim nations to reach people for Jesus. I find it to be the most important challenge I could issue to those who say they love and have submitted their lives to Jesus.
It is found through the words of Jesus himself:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Have we not heard in this country over and over to love our neighbors (friends) and hate those who are our enemies? Haven't we been sold on this idea that we should take people to court, defend ourselves, kill or be killed, etc.?
Do we care what Jesus said and taught? Or do we want to live in our culture and let it guide our responses? This sentiment is what I have found as I have posted many articles on my findings on Islam. First response from many Christians has been highly hateful, lying, misleading and plain despising those people who call themselves Muslims. For one, I don't believe that they are our enemies. But, if you consider them enemies, you might want to start thinking about how you respond to them. Do you respond with love and prayer? Not, "God, I pray that they would become Christians and stop being stupid." But, pray for them how Jesus told us to pray for them. Look at how Jesus tells us to pray for them and treat them:
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Jesus tells us to not only love them and pray for them, but we are to bless them and do good to them. If you consider Muslims our enemy, are you asking God to bless them? Are you trying to do good to them? Are you loving them? Or, is your response to them more like what the Jews said to Jesus, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” I just have to say that the responses I have seen and heard from my fellow "Christians" have been as harsh and polarizing as what the Jews said about their enemy in Jesus and the Samaritans. But, this isn't what Christ has called us to.
Jesus calls those who say are his followers to love, pray for, bless and do good to our enemies. Jesus even goes further in Luke and says that we should offer our enemies loans without expecting to be paid back (which is another way to say to give our money away to our enemies).
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
I love the end of verse 35. Jesus reminds us that God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. That is you and I! How are we to reach out to the Muslims, or our enemies, if we don't even try to live the way Christ has called us to? God has been good to us, yet we hate our enemies? Do I really need to tell you (and myself) that we are the one who has been forgiven much, but doesn't forgive the smallest debt when we do this?
We like to say that Muslims don't believe Jesus is the Son of God (read this great article on this subject), but how can we say we believe, when we don't try and live like Jesus? When we draw straw men? When we ostracize the Muslim? Call them all terrorists and haters of God? When we aren't even willing to be friends with Muslims and reach out to them in love and blessing?
Sorry to say, but if we are not reaching out to Muslims and loving, praying for and blessing them, how can we expect them to ever actually love Jesus? Why would they want to become like us, when we don't show ourselves to be "Theophiluses" or "lovers of God"?
I fear that we, as Christians, have practically lived so evil and hateful against the Muslims, that they rightly think that the Bible must be corrupted. Because the Jesus in the Qur'an is peaceful, loving and miraculous among his enemies. Yet, we call ourselves followers of Jesus and only show Muslims hate. What are they supposed to believe? What is your neighbor supposed to believe? What are your enemies supposed to believe? What does Jesus think of this? Their conclusion is that the Bible that Westerners read is corrupted because the way that they live looks nothing like the Jesus in the Qur'an.
I think our hatred for our enemies, might show the reality of our hearts. Because of this, I don't see why any Muslim, or enemy of ours, thinks anything besides bad things about us and desire nothing from us or our religion we call "loving and peaceful".
How about we do something crazy, and try living against our cultural norms and decide to reach out and love, pray for, bless, and do good to our enemies? Or was Jesus just too radical to actually follow?
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