Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Unconditional Love of God

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is."  Ephesians 3:18

I didn't grasp that God loved me until I was a missionary at 28 years old. Shocking, but true. I want it  to be my own ever expanding personal discovery and to proclaim it more clearly and boldly to my Muslim friends.

Many Muslim women, as I felt previously, do not know if God loves them. If they do believe that it is difficult for them to grasp that God loves them unconditionally. They have been brought up to believe that life is about doing the will of Allah – being obedient to his commands. Allah loves(approves of) good people but does not love bad people. They are never sure whether they are good or bad in Allah’s sight - hopefully good. They are cognizant of the dreaded scales(meezan) and fear judgment, punishment and hell. They hang their hopes on Allah’s mercy which they hope they will achieve.

Today I tried to explain to Mahnaz that God loves her unconditionally. She replied forlornly, “I hope so.” A fire started burning within me and I prayed silently, Oh Lord, please help Mahnaz to understand. Open her eyes. Filled with compassion I said, “Mahnaz, God loves you very much. You are special to him. He wants to protect you and help you. He sees your tears. Jesus has taken all the punishment for your sin upon himself on the cross.” I talked at length about God’s love and had her read Ephesians 3:17-19 in her language. She looked at me with longing eyes wishing that He would love her. For her, God’s love is always dependent on whether she has been a good enough wife or mother, prayed enough, fasted enough, done enough good deeds, or sacrificed enough.

We should never tire of telling our Muslim friend that God loves her unconditionally.  Use the Bible to verify your words. If you don’t have your Bible handy you could memorize some key verses about God’s love and recite them to her. Ask her how to say “God loves Mahnaz”(apply real name)and "God is Love" in her heart language. When you pray with your Muslim friend emphasize those truths in your prayer. Don’t be surprised if you catch her crying. The Spirit is moving and touching her in the deepest longings of her soul. Don’t rush to close up your prayer. Let her soak in the experience of God’s love. You are on sacred ground.

Valentine's Day is approaching. Why not share God's love with your Muslim friend? Sometimes I sing Jesus Loves Me to my friends. Afterwards I ask them, "How do I know God loves me?" Usually they still don't know how to answer that. "Because the Bible tells me so," I reply. They will not know from the Qur'an that God loves them unconditionally. It is also helpful to explain that no prophet(Moses, Abraham, etc.) loves me but I know Jesus loves me because He is alive and gave His life for me to be forgiven.

Dear heavenly Father, please help us to grasp Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.