More and more, I find I am on the receiving end of emails from (I have to believe) well-meaning Christians who want to warn me of the dangers of Islam. While I cannot say for sure why these letters are becoming more frequent and more militant in tone, I must say that my soul grieves for those who view Muslims only through a political lens. Why? Because the problem with that is if that is the only way you view Muslims, then that will likely end up being the way in which you will view any effort at countering them.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I would find sharia law acceptable or that our own laws should be changed to accommodate the various and sundry demands of Muslims who would like to not just live here, but import their religious standards and impose them upon my country. But I am deeply concerned that most Christians simply view Muslims as a ‘threat’, and rarely, if ever see them as a fertile mission field for evangelism with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Much of what is written under the guise of ‘concern’ about our freedoms, values and customs is really not concern as much as it is fear. I believe many Christians live in fear of Islam. Why should this be? Doesn’t the Bible teach us that this is not God’s will for His people? Paul, writing to Timothy in the 1st century, when persecution against the fledgling Christian church was coming from both the Christ-rejecting Jews and the power of the Roman state reminded his young friend that,
God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
That “spirit of fear” is not from God! And if ever there was a time that Christians could have said they had every reason to live in fear, it was during those horrific days of persecution when martyrdom was a very common occurrence.
But what is even more illuminating for us is what the apostle had to say following that declaration. He went on to encourage Timothy to be even bolder in his testimony for Christ and unashamed of those who were serving the Lord and suffering in their service. Not only that, but Timothy was exhorted to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel”; not in his own strength, but “according to the power of God”. Here is the verse:
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (2 Tim 1:8).
We see the scenes of atrocities committed against Christians and for many, the response is to react in uncontrolled anger, withdraw from the situation, circle the wagons or run for the hills. None of these are acceptable responses for the followers of Christ.
What must we do? I would say that the response of the Christian church to a militant and ever-expanding Muslim influence is no different than it was when our 1st century forefathers faced the imperial might of Rome and the hatred of Judaistic leaders who willfully put our Saviour on the cross and mocked Him while He suffered there. We must go forth in obedience to Christ, the King and only Head of His church and “preach the gospel to every creature (person)”. Need I remind you there is no fine print following that great commission. Muslims are included as well as followers of every other religion, atheists, agnostics and everyone else.
A friend of mine has taken a very different approach to the influx of Muslims in his area. He reached out to them, letting the love of God shine through his deeds and words, and touches them with the words of the gospel. He embraces them, not as representatives of another faith that stands on equal footing with that of Christianity, but as poor sin-blinded souls who need to know their status before God and their need of salvation that can only come through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. He invites them over and they reciprocate by inviting his family to visit them. And all the while, his focus stays on being a good servant of Jesus Christ and bringing the gospel to them.
This is how we must deal with the Muslim. This is how we must deal with all who are outside of Jesus Christ. Not fearfully demanding the government “do something” (whatever that means), but earnestly, fervently, faithfully confessing Christ to them and showing a love for their souls that goes beyond a selfish pursuit of self-protection and isolation that really is saying we are willing to go to heaven ourselves while we let those around us continue in their ways and go to hell.
Do you have unsaved neighbours living on your street? Are any of those families adherents of the Muslim religion? Let me ask you this: have you prayed for them? Have you ever gone before God in serious prayer and asked the Lord to give you a love for their souls and the strength and wisdom to reach out to them with the gospel of salvation?
If you do, you will find it will accomplish two things: First, it will fill your heart with love for God and love for sinners who need the gospel, and second, it will drive your fears out of your heart. You see, the Bible teaches that fear and love cannot dwell together. You will either have a heart filled with God’s love, or a heart filled with irrational and sinful fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)