A Spirit of Fear or a Heart of Love for Muslims?

Believe it or not, I actually went to college.  What now seems like a long time ago, I studied Bible and missions at what was then Columbia Bible College and what is now Columbia International University.  One advantage to having attended a college that specializes in training missionaries is that I have the privilege of knowing a number of people who serve God around the world.  I find their perspective on what God is doing in their corner of the world, as well as their outsider’s perspective on Christianity in America, very enlightening.

So, after having a number of conversations this month about the influence of Muslims around the world and the way that influence is being perceived as a threat by many Americans, including American Christians and those claiming to be Christians, I asked for some outside perspective.  I contacted Keith Martyn, a missionary who is working with Muslims in another country, to give me his perspective on the recent displays of fear and anger toward Muslims here in America. This is part of his reply: 

Hi Phil,

 

I am encouraged to hear your heart and your concern about so many aspects on this issue. There is definitely a deep misunderstanding and many differences between the people who claim to follow each of these respective religions. This, in turn, produces many not-so-helpful responses on both sides. There are many aspects to this. Cultural, social, economic, ideological, spiritual, etc. I don't know if I can offer anything new but here are a couple of thoughts that come to mind:

 

God is LORD over all and loves His people with their good in mind (Romans 8:28) therefore we need not fear (should not) but rather we must believe that God will ultimately glorify Himself through even the most tragic of events. Those who have a relationship with the Almighty God of the universe need not be characterized by fear.

 

Satan will use everything he possibly can to create enmity and deceive so as to kill, steal and destroy. He uses Islam to blind and hold in bondage over a billion people with the damnable intention of keeping souls from salvation in Christ and facilitating their eternal torment. Therefore, as true followers of Christ (not as followers of a mere religion) we must stand against Satan with the spiritual weapons God commands us to wield, standing firm against the real enemy while, as Christ's Body, responding with love and truth to those he holds in darkness. We must educate ourselves about Islam and its adherents, being careful not to see them as the enemy but rather as lost souls from whom God is calling many. Rather than taking a confrontational approach and debate with Muslims, we ought to focus on Christ and His teachings, miracles, sacrifice and resurrection. Share Christ with both Christians and Muslims.

 

Muslim extremists have followed their interpretation of the teaching of the Khuran and murdered many people. Human beings are naturally outraged by this and rightly so but we ought to allow our God-ordained/authorized government to respond to protect the citizens under its care while corporately uniting in prayer and demonstrating our love to Muslims. Most Muslims themselves condemn and distance themselves from extreme forms of Islam and we should acknowledge that distinction through understanding.

One of the things God has done is to being many people from the Muslim world to America that, right or wrong, still has the reputation of being one of the strongest Christians nations in the world.  This presents an amazing opportunity for Christians to show the grace, truth, and love of Jesus to Muslim neighbors and co-workers. However, this opportunity is being undermined by the fear and/or apathy that is spreading among Christians in America. 

I especially appreciated Keith’s points that:

  1. Those who have a relationship with the Almighty God of the universe need not be characterized by fear.
  2. We must educate ourselves about Islam and its adherents, being careful not to see them as the enemy but rather as lost souls from whom God is calling many.

This is a good reminder that Christians are called to respond to all people, even those who see themselves as our enemies, in love.  A love the displays God’s heart for the lost.  A love that does the work to understand people who are different from us and applies the wisdom to God to know what we can accept, what we can adapt, and what we must avoid in our relationships with them. In short, a love that is shaped by the Gospel.   I am praying that God will give us this kind of love for our Muslim neighbors and coworkers so we can have the privilege of being a part of His plan for the Muslims He has placed around us.

 

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